The church of Jesus Christ is to be organic. It is not a rigid machine with an agenda, but a living breathing organism. We are the Body, building itself up in love and edifying one another.
Unity is so strong in God, but yet it is so delicate if not nurtured.
Division is rampant in the church today. Brothers are not speaking to one another. There are offenses, hurt feelings, and distrust. How can this be? More importantly, how does it start and how can we prevent it?
Division starts so very subtly among us. It starts as a minute and tiny morsel in the heart. It starts as a slight disagreement or a seemingly insignificant offense. It is then that the foundation for a judgment begins to take its shape. The subtle attitude that is the beginnings of division says, “That brother or sister is like that, or they are like this. They treat me like this or always say those kinds of things.” Pretty soon, your behavior towards them is a little distant. Instead of dealing with it in your own heart and going to them, you talk about them to someone else – a poor decision, so it spreads.
Soon there is division in the body. Don’t be unaware. If God has delivered you from the traditional way of meeting, Satan will surely want to bring an assault. This is our very enemy. How do we combat such a slippery and common enemy as division?
Paul encouraged us to be diligent to preserve the unity. How? Unity is preserved by each individual member (that’s you) being strong in the very basics of the Christian faith – forgiveness, speaking the truth in love, bearing with one another, patience, and suffering with one another.
It is critical that we recognize the fact that our brothers and sisters around us are weak. You are weak, I am weak, we are all full of weaknesses and error. We cannot be offended by weaknesses. Perhaps the brother didn’t know any better. Perhaps God hasn’t revealed this or that to them yet. Maybe they had a revelation at one time in their lives of how to conduct themselves in a certain situation, but they forgot. The thing you are offended by in your brother; is something you also do – or have done at one time or another. Can’t we forgive? Can’t we always hold that brother or sister as being dear in our heart, even if they made a mistake? Aren’t they worth going and talking to them about it? We must learn to give each other plenty of room.
The very subtle hurts we receive from one another – which happen constantly – are the very building blocks for self protection and judgments among us, all leading to division in the church. It is imperative that we are extremely diligent to deal with hurts quickly, forgive, hold that brother close, and not self-protect or distance ourselves. If we are ever offended and avoiding someone because of it, we are obligated by the Lord’s command to first deal with our own heart by forgiving them, then embrace them in our hearts, and if necessary, go work things out. This should be done much more often then we might think.
If your hand got an infection, would you cut it off as quickly as you could? If your child offended you, would you disown them? We must come to a place of knowing of the treasure that is in one another. Yes, your brother is a treasure! You are to treasure him as much as you do your very hand. He is Christ’s hand. He is your hand. “We are members of one another.” Your brother or sister is as close to you as a child or blood family member – even closer. How is it that we tend to discount one another so quickly? We can’t. We must gain and understand our true identity. We are all one thing. We are one entity, one temple, one organism. It is not optional to walk away. Unity MUST be preserved because if you reject your brother, you are doing it to yourself and to Christ.
The Lord’s command in 1 Corinthians 1:10 is that we all agree and speak the same thing. This is to be pursued. However, it is also true that unity is something of the Spirit that has already been accomplished. From Ephesians 4, we see that it is something to be preserved. There are many things that are already true and that are already accomplished in the spirit, in the heavenly places, and from the finished work of Christ. Yet at the same time, we do not fully see these things manifest on earth in all situations.
For example, the scripture teaches that we have all of the righteousness of God in Christ, yet on earth and in these bodies we still sin. The scripture tells us that we have the mind of Christ. This is true. However, all of our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. We see from scripture that we are in Christ and seated at the right hand of the Father, yet you are reading this book and your feet are still on the earth. The same is true for our unity. We can see from Ephesians 4 and all throughout the New Testament scriptures that there is one body and we are one in the Spirit. This is already done and accomplished in the heavenly places. However, we are commanded to preserve this unity. We are to all speak the same thing, we are to be in agreement, and there should be no divisions among us.
I can disagree with my brother on a doctrinal issue and still experience being one with him in the Spirit. There can be tremendous love, respect, and unity, even if we disagree. Don’t get me wrong, we are never to “agree to disagree.” We are commanded from scripture to talk through and work out our differences. Some conversations may last for five years! We will have on-going issues that we disagree on in which we are trying to find the truth together. However, we are never to separate because of doctrinal differences. Only sin or geography should separate the church.
We should never try to achieve unity by agreeing on doctrine alone. We should always begin with the truth that is in the heavenly places. We should begin by believing the truth that we already are one in the Spirit. If we believed this, it would take care of so many other problems. If we truly see and believe that we are one – that we are family, then arguments and disagreements could never separate us. Our family may hurt us. We may get knocked around. But we will always come back to the dinner table because we are family and we see ourselves that way.
If you have a natural family and they believe they are a family, they may have sharp disagreements, but they still are family. They will still live in the same house.
Suppose you had a very sharp disagreement with someone and you could not get along. And suppose that you were not family and that you were not one with them in any way. Then you would more than likely just go on your way and probably separate. It wouldn’t be worth the trouble.
This is what we see in the church today. We are not worth the trouble for one another. If we don’t get along with someone or some group, we just go to the next one. This is an abomination. This promotes division in the church. We tend to only want relationships that are convenient, easy, and relationships that make us feel good about ourselves. We really don’t want to do much work when it comes to relationships.
The reason why we separate so often from each other is because we have an identity problem. We do not believe that we are one in the Spirit with one another. We do not believe that we are really one body. If we truly believed that we are one family with those in the church, we would never let any disagreements or hard feelings separate us. But, as hard as it may be, we would do whatever it takes to work through it.