We expect there to be divisions in the world, but when it creeps into the church, that’s another thing. Many times in Scripture we are told that we are one in Christ. The prayer that Jesus prayed before he went to the cross expresses his heart’s desire for believers: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me.” John 17:22-23. You can almost feel the yearning in Jesus’ heart as he prayed these words.
1 Cor. 12:12-30 outlines how we can have individuality and still be one without there being division. Just as our human bodies consist of many different parts without those parts being divided, so the church of Christ should not be divided because we are all not identical. “There should be no division in the body, but that it’s parts should have equal concern for each other.”
In Ephesians 2, Paul writes regarding the differences between the Jews and Gentiles. “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” Colossians 3:15 says “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”
My husband and I were privileged to minister in other countries around the world – Holland and Uganda, and we visited a church in Spain. We took missions trips to Honduras and Mexico. Every country has their own unique way of worshiping God. We didn’t understand their language (except my husband, being Dutch, knew that language) but when we were worshipping with believers It didn’t matter at all. We could sense the presence of the Lord, and felt that we were all one in Christ.
If there are matters of heresy, teachings that are contrary to Scripture, that is one thing, but when we are all true worshipers of Christ, our petty differences should not cause division.
I’m reminded of the old hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers. It was written in the 19th century to encourage Christians in their ongoing battles with temptations within themselves and the evil forces throughout the world. If it spoke to Christians then, how much more so today when we see so much division in the world. We need to lay down our ideas of “us” and “them” and concentrate on the truth that if we have been called by Christ, there is only “we!!” Verse 3 especially verbalizes this truth:
Like a mighty army moves the church of God
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one is charity!
Jesus is coming back for a united church. Let’s start practicing that now!!