These next three posts may be some of my more controversial posts yet. I hope you will bear with me through all three. I am going to try to really drive home a point and the importance of true Biblical unity. There may be times when it gets uncomfortable, but then again our Savior did not die so we could be comfortable. He died so that we could be transformed into His likeness. With that being said lets begin.
Our history started with the church understanding that whether Jew or Gentile, there was no difference. However, even within that early history there was division. And we cannot talk about this subject without hitting a very important topic. Let’s look at I Corintians 1:10-13, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?”(NIV) Does that sound like we could just replace a few names and be very contemporary? The congregation in these verses were even meeting in the same house. Notice they were not fighting over the style of music, but on who was there leader.
Now let’s go to chapter 3 and read verses 1 though 8. “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly–mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.”(NIV)
What is Apollos and what is Paul? Let’s plug in some other names here: John Wesley, Martin Luther, John Calvin….. We have a tendency to follow mere men and go with the opinions of mere men instead Scripture, instead of standing together as one in Christ. Is that not what a denomination is? And I write this as a Southern Baptist Pastor’s wife who loves her denomination. But my denomination is NOT the church! We’re just a part of it, doing our part. Laboring for what God has given us. That’s all! That’s all any denomination is, doing it’s part. If denominations ever get so arrogant as to say, “We are the church”, we are in disobedience.
Like I said this is going to get uncomfortable. We don’t like to talk about this very often. And you can read this and say, “Yes, Vicky your absolutely right”. Yet at the same time we don’t like to have those very important conversations. You know the ones I’m talking about, those theological discussions on Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, etc.
We have an unspoken rule in our society that basically says when you go to Uncle Tom’s house you don’t talk politics and you don’t talk religion. Right? We’ll we have an unspoken rule in the church that say’s, “When ya’ll get together, don’t take about doctrine.” Just don’t go there. Why? Because we act like mere men when we go there? But is avoiding those topics the desire of God? And are we willing to leave behind the milk for the solid food even when we come together.
We have to ask ourselves if our husband wants a dysfunctional bride. The answer, of course, is no He doesn’t. Yet a bride that does not talk to each other is dysfunctional. A family that doesn’t talk to each other is dysfunctional? Isn’t that how we would classify that? Is there a branch of your family that refuses to talk to each other or refuses to talk about certain topics?
I want us to read a few verses in Ephesians chapter 4, verses 1-6, 11-13, and then 16. It says, ”As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to one hope when you were called– one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”…“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”…“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”(NIV)
What does that peace mean again? Oneness. It represents that covenant, that everlasting covenant. So when we get together and we talk doctrinal stuff and we start arguing and saying, We’ll I think this and I think that and that’s just the way it’s going to be and we’re just going to have to agree to disagree. Are we not acting like mere men? Yes, we are.
This is food for thought until our next post. I hope I have not run you off. We will discuss this again next time and then in part three we will discuss how we are to act toward one another. How do we function as the Bride of Christ in true unity.
A Member of the Bride,