Something that really troubles my heart is the lack of unity in the body of Christ. This lack of unity severely hinders the effectiveness of the body of Christ and is a great cause of disrepute to the Lord Jesus.
I find it both rather sad and disturbing that there’s these Christians going around trolling other people’s Facebook pages, YouTube videos and forums with deliberate intent of stirring up strife, igniting contention and promoting all kinds of man-made opinion and falsehood. It is becoming more and more common for these keyboard commandoes and weekend warriors to pick on every this and that doctrine or statement floating around the Internet.
However it’s obviously not just happening on the Internet, it happens a lot in day-to-day interactions amongst Christians. Whether that’s after church on Sunday and a couple of people get into an argument over some point of a particular doctrine or during a Wednesday night Bible study when the topic turns into a debate and certain people go home with hurt feelings.
I’m going to say upfront that this article is not going to be about how we need to compromise and be ecumenical which seems to be the case with many mainstream churches and church leaders today. That is not the answer to uniting the church. What I do want to say here will come straight from the Word of God itself.
I have seen so many people take words that preachers have spoken out of gross miscontext and cause slanderous accusations to make the rounds across the internet. And keep in mind these self-righteous YouTube preachers are all on about trying to “correct false doctrine” etc yet they couldn’t even prepare a very basic message in church let alone do it in a humble manner. All they do is spew forth hate instead of encouragement and words that uplift. They want to pick on persecuted Christian minority groups in Africa for not having their doctrine right yet they aren’t even willing to die for the sake of Christ or take up their cross daily for a start! Meanwhile they’re constantly listening to other preachers on YouTube and failing to read their own Bibles and commune with the Lord in prayer.
Plus we have these people who go around saying you’re not saved if you don’t agree with this doctrine and that etc. (not sure what Bible they’re reading from because last time I checked the only person I had to be in good standing with is God and I don’t care whether the truth hurts somebody else’s man-made notions plus don’t forget that my faith does not rest on a flawed human being but rather on Christ alone). I couldn’t believe my ears when I first heard that statement!
The Bible has a lot to say about people deliberately stirring up strife and not knowing how to be self-controlled and exercising Christian charity and respect.
I think if we all take our beliefs and principles from the Bible alone then we wouldn’t be in the mess that we are in today. Seminaries, man’s opinion and false teachers have a lot to answer for this great confusion and chaos.
One of the greatest signs of spiritual maturity amongst believers is the ability to be able to agree to disagree with someone whilst still maintaining mutual respect and love for each other. Sadly this is something that is sorely lacking amongst the church of God today.
So for our first Scripture passage we’ll look at 1 Corinthians chapter 1 starting from verse 10.
10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
Ok, so it seems that there were divisions and disputes in the Corinthian church hence the reason why the Apostle Paul felt it needful to address them. His plea and exhortation is that the members of this church would…
- speak the same thing (i.e. no contradicting doctrines and teachings)
- have no division among them
- be joined together (unified) in the same mindset and same conclusions
12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
These people were subscribing to the teachings of one particular person. One would say “Oh I am of Paul’s thinking” or “I follow Apollos’ teaching” etc.
This is very true of the church today. Instead of following the word of God only, believers get distracted with the teachings of a particular man. “Oh I follow John Macarthur” or “I follow John Calvin” etc. This is of course not to say that we do not listen to preachers and teachers in the church however we are exhorted to prove all things or test everything in light of Scripture and to be like the Bereans. Man is flawed. God is absolutely flawless. So never lose sight of who your true leader is: Jesus Christ – God who became flesh and dwelt amongst us.
13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.
17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
As flawed beings we of our ownselves have no wisdom. All true wisdom comes from God alone. As ambassadors for Christ, we preach His wisdom and not our own.
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
And now let’s head over to Ephesians chapter 4
4 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
There we go, the Apostle Paul lists 4 important traits that we should have: lowliness, meekness, long-suffering and forbearing (tolerating) one another in love.
3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
I think this verse is self-explanatory. The following verses layout out some very well established fundamentals of the Christian faith that are non-negotiable and thus non debatable topics.
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Every one of us are given different giftings as it says right here.
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
All of these gifting are to achieve the three following goals 1) perfecting (equipping, encouraging and nourishing) of the saints, 2) for the work of the ministry in the kingdom of God and 3) for the edification (building up) of the body of Christ.
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
Another self-explanatory verse.
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
The first part of this verse is the key when the truth must be spoken. It’s got to be done in love.
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
20 But ye have not so learned Christ;
21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
27 Neither give place to the devil.
28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
I’m not saying that truth should not be spoken. Not at all. But we need a strong balance and that is one of the greatest signs of Christian maturity. You can have truth without grace and grace without truth but you need a balance of both and that only comes through the grace of God. Balance, humility, self-control and Christian love are a handful of things (to name a few) that are oh so lacking in churches today and which I personally believe are a great cause of deep hurt within the body of Christ.
I think we just need to learn to get along with each other. How can we be effective servants in the kingdom of God when all we’re ever doing is arguing? Put the arguing aside! It’s childish! Don’t waste your time!
Read your Bibles and put away the commentaries and humanistic Bible college garbage! Commune with the Lord in earnest prayer! Only then will you truly understand the heart of God and be able to see the Bible from a viewpoint that is not distorted by your preconceived ideas and misguided interpretations. I don’t need seminary training or some enlightenment from a man-made institution to tell me how to study my Bible or how to have a personal relationship with God. I don’t need a Ph.D. in religion to tell me that God loves me! I don’t need any of that!
All you need is an open heart, an open Bible and an open notebook and ask the Lord for guidance in the reading and interpretation of Scripture and you’re on the right track.
Finally I want to say that lack of genuine love for the body of Christ is very serious and a personal examination of your standing before God is something that you need to seriously think about.
I love every member in the body of Christ. God loves you more than you can ever comprehend and He’s commanded us all to show brotherly and sisterly love and affection to one another. Harbouring malice, bitterness and hate never ever works. Learn to forgive and move on. Christ forgave your unforgiveable sins and so how much more should you forgive the petty wrongdoings and trespasses of other brethren? I can say that as someone who has had the misfortune of being shunned and marginalised in many churches I’ve been through with my family. I don’t harbour any bitter feelings toward anyone however I do harbour some lessons that I learned as a result of those experiences.
1 John 4:20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can[a] he love God whom he has not seen
John 13:35 “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”