Unity of the Saints
Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:12)
We as Christians can spend so much time debating and lecturing about this and that, getting caught up in our talk over Calvinism, Arminianism, post- tribulation, pre-tribulation, are we saved before baptism or during, and on it may go. We then build our churches with their own sets of rules, views and traditions, creating denominational organizations complete with their own names of distinction. Well, is this not true? Don't we label ourselves as Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Assembly of God, Nazarenes and Church of Christ just to name a few? And let's not forget about those Churches that consider themselves "non-denominational" but have duplicated themselves with their own name of distinction as well. One of these is the Calvary Chapel Association of Churches (which I was a part of for many years and enjoyed the fellowship).
Now, please don't get me wrong. I love my brothers and sisters in Christ who all attend these churches, so I'm in no way belittling the body of Christ. And to make things even clearer, I myself attend or even have attended some of these churches. However, by us keeping up and creating new names of distinction, we are creating divisions not only in the eyes of us believers, but in the eyes of the world as well.
One True Church
According to the word of God, there is to be no divisions within the body of Christ. We are to be the one true Church, and this would include all our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. But, as noted above, there are so many church Denominations and Associations that are causing divisions among Christians. And why is that? Could it be because we think we have a better handle on the truth than the fellowship down the street? I do believe so, for why else would we do it? God's word sums it up best where it says: "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)
Now it may be true that we love our Lord and Savior from the heart. We may also be totally sincere in our faith as Christians, praying for the lost and other believers as well. However, at the same time we are building these invisible walls of separation. And the sad part of it all, we do it in plain view of the world who is watching and maybe even mocking.*
(Note: If we examine most of the early churches in the New Testament, we would see that they were only referred to as the “church that meets in your house”* or to a name of the city where they met in, such as “the church of the Thessalonians."* These types of labeling was not to show a distinction from one another but to aid the reader to understand their locality.)
Dwelling in Unity
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
So, God calls us to be one in Christ and to dwell in unity with fellow believers. Jesus prayed for this Christian unity so that the world may see our love for one another and thus recognize that He truly came from the Father and that the Holy Spirit dwells in us.* And this unity can only be truly accomplished if we obey God by breaking down these dividing walls that we have made. Because letʼs face it, if we donʼt do it God may do it, and that in such a way we would have never imagined.
Learning the Meaning of Unity the Hard Way
As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. (Acts 8:3-4)
The Syrian Christians were praying for revival and believing that God would do a great work in their land.* They like us had their churches along with their different denominations. And then came the war with its bombings and its terrorists. Churches were destroyed and down came their denominational barriers that separated believers. Syrian Christians groups who at one time may have questioned each otherʼs salvation are now gathering for weekly prayers, asking God to move in their nation and in their churches. Now these same Christians continue to spread hope in the face of hopelessness, holding high not a political or denominational banner but the banner of Jesus Christ.
So, let us put away our own petty deferenceʼs and all those things that can cause divisions and strife and seek the truth of God's word. For only in doing so can we find true biblical oneness and unity. For we are that one body in the Lord with its many members who are called to function as a whole.* There is a world of people out there who need to hear the gospel and we are to be the salt and a light to them.* Isnʼt that what weʼre called to do? Arenʼt we supposed to spread the love of Christ to the lost out there so that they may have eternal life also? So in all, let us fulfill our Lord's Prayer by being one in Him and fulfill the great commission which is sharing the Gospel with the world.
Just a Reminder
We cannot put God in our own little theological box. Yes, sometimes we get up on our little “soap box” and act like we know everything, but the truth of the matter is we donʼt.* Let us remember that Godʼs ways and thoughts are much higher than ours so letʼs just humble ourselves before Him and let God be God.* So let us quit leaning on our own understanding of things and allow his Holy Spirit to teach us his truths.* We must embrace the truth of his word, and take upon ourselves the yoke of Jesus so that we can truly learn from him.* For its only when we keep our eyes stayed on him can we be truly led by the Holy Spirit into all truths. And in all, let us remember what his word says to us: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. - Deuteronomy 6:4-5). So if this is true with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we also must likewise be in unity with our God and with each other. Amen.
In closing I like to say, I do love all my brothers and sisters in Christ. However, I want to bring to light our need to get back to basics. We have all strayed from Godʼs ideal on how the church should conduct itself. So, letʼs learn from His Holy Spirit as Christ shows us the way. But regardless of all these issues, God is still so in love with us and His presence is with us.* He is working through us His children even with our petty differences and views. And yes, even though we made somewhat of a mess of the church here in America or even around the world, we can still turn things around by following after His leading. And letʼs pray that we do. Amen
All Scriptures are taken from the King James Version unless noted otherwise
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:20-23)