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Church: The Hatfields and McCoys
We live in a world that is totally at war with itself. Our nation is being torn apart by division – racial, socioeconomic, political – you name it, and we’ve experienced it. But that’s not how Christ designed His church to be. In fact, Jesus said in John 17 that when we love each other more than we love ourselves, the lost world will come to believe God sent Jesus and He is truly the Son of God. In other words, our unity and oneness with each other will be the strongest evangelical draw we have to bring others to Christ.
But if you look around, all we see within the church is division. Some churches believe in the sovereignty of God, while others deify man and his free will choices. Some churches see homosexuality as a sin, while others have drag queens teaching the children on Sunday mornings. The church has a history of dividing on trivial matters such as the mode of baptism or our posture in prayer rather than uniting around the “faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).
But what did the Lord have in mind when He created His church? And does it look anything like what we’ve turned it into today? Let’s take a few moments and do a brief survey on what the Lord said about His church.
It’s Unity Above Almost Everything Else
As we’ve shared already, the early church was built on devoting themselves to the four disciplines found in Acts 2:42. And as you can see, two of the four deal with building our family relationships with each other in unity (fellowship and the Love Feast, or the breaking of bread).
And they continued steadfastly in (were devoted to) (1) the apostles’ doctrine and (2) fellowship, in the (3) breaking of bread, and (4) in prayers – Acts 2:42.
Then we have the prayer of Jesus before His death on the cross. And what was the content of His prayer? Our unity in Him and each other.
“That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us (why) that the world may believe that You sent Me” – John 17:21.
Notice how many times Paul encouraged the church (and the individual believers) to humble themselves in unity with others like our Lord did. It seems that being one together in Him was continually on Paul’s mind.
Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be (what) like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, (why) that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – Romans 15:5-6.
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that (what) you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment – 1 Corinthians 1:10.
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to (what) walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, (how) with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all – Ephesians 4:1-6.
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others – Philippians 2:1-4.
Ugh, Enough Already
I know, too many passages all saying the same thing lose their power over time. Maybe. Or maybe several passages all saying the same thing might convict us of our sins and move us to make the changes internally we need to in order to become one with other believers. Maybe we will realize Jesus was serious about unity in His church, and Paul just piled it on even more after Him.
And maybe, just maybe, this will move us to change how we view church and each other in order to make His name known to those who live in sin, skepticism, and denial. And maybe when we are one in Him, our loved ones will see the incredible power of Christ and come to faith in Him.
And if so, all He is waiting for is us to obey His commands. Are you ready? I sure hope so.