Should the church be united or divided? Do our choices outside of Sunday morning church hold up to scrutiny?
Clearly, Christians are to be united. Imagine Paul challenging our church with these words; (Eph 4:4-6) “There is one body and one spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
The truth is, there are many things that can divide the Church; politics, social issues, bitterness due to changes brought in by newly appointed church leaders, just to name a few.
Have you ever thought about your interactions, conversations and demeanor from the perspective of a new Christian watching from afar? Imagine this…for the first time, you hear and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. You are on FIRE for Him. Imagine your confusion and dismay when you look around at your new Christian friends, and only hear them endorsing their favorite politician, athlete, preacher or entertainer. You might think, ‘Why don’t my Christian friends talk more about Jesus?’
And you might be right.
Here in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, we are offered a solution. Paul implores the believers there to “have no divisions among them”, and to be “united in the same mind and the same judgment.” The problem was that in their church, the believers were claiming to follow their favorite teacher… Apollos, or Cephas (Peter), or Paul, and yet they are all rebuked by Paul. Try to hear Paul’s incredulous tone in his words: “Was Paul crucified for you?”, or “Were you baptized in the name of Paul?” Paul amazingly even confronts those saying “I follow Christ”, (“Was Christ divided?”) because he knew they were NOT united, they only wanted to appear more righteous than the others. It seems we are a helpless case, but praise God!!
In order for our church to stay united in purpose and mission, we need to align our hearts and minds FIRST with Jesus’ mission. He needs to be the Lord of our hearts. When Jesus is at the center, our ethics and morality will be grounded in God’s word. Condemnation lessens for those blinded to the truth of the Gospel, and for those saved by grace. We rightly see injustice and speak out and act against it. We joyfully serve the ‘least of these.’ It is Jesus and His gospel that unite the Church, and “not with words of eloquent wisdom, (i.e. by the great oratory or literary skills of a person) lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” Jesus’ mission, to “testify to the Truth” (John 18:37), and to redeem and rescue a fallen, sinful, depraved and lost world, is often different than our earthly missions. Want social justice? Want a more unified marriage? Want civic peace? Want familial harmony?
Trust and follow Jesus.