Wednesday, November 13, 2013

One.

                Yesterday, I and a sister in the Lord went for a walk through a beautiful part of North Carolina. (I love the fall in North Carolina). We talked about various things, issues and of course, Jesus. As we talked we found ourselves talking about the various denominations, doctrines and church laws that each church seems to have- some are the same and some are different. But one thing that we both agreed on was that it did not matter that she and I went to different churches, what mattered is that we had Jesus in common.
                In this study through the book of John one thing I have seen is a desire from Jesus for the brethren to dwell in unity. This week, in Chapter 17 we see Jesus praying specifically for unity among the brethren. He prayed that we would all be one as He is one with the Father; He prayed that we would not be divided, but united in Him.

                “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one as You, Father, are in Me and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me, I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one. I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” John 17:20-23
                Jesus prayed for us, those of us who are living for Him today, He prayed for us that we would be one with Him, one in Him and one with each other. The word one means exactly that- one. There are no divisions, there are no walls, and there are no separations. It is used metaphorically to describe union and concord. I keep going back to the same subject it seems of late, but it seems to be an issue that I think we as the body of Christ need to recognize and discard of in our churches. And that is the walls and barriers we have built through denominations and organization of the church.
                Paul states in Galatians 3:28 that there is “neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free; there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Jesus prayed that we would be one. So why is it that we elevate our “church” above another because they do not teach the same, they do not do things the way we do, they do not have the same bi-laws so therefore, they are different? I once had a sister in the Lord get upset that I chose to go to a church that taught topical instead of line by line. Is that not completely against what Jesus prayed for us, what Jesus desires to see in us?
                Where in the book of Acts do you see any division among the believers because of race, creed, or title of their church? I don’t find it, because that was never the desire of God for His body, His church. We are to be working together, united in the same purpose, united in the same Person who came to save us from the sin that we are entrapped in. We are to be one body, One Spirit, living and working together in One Lord- Jesus Christ.
               
 Jesus prayed that we would be one, just as He is one with the Father so that the world may believe that the Father has sent Him. Our divisions, our walls we have put up between the church communities have shown the world nothing except that we are no different than they are. The world needs to see a church, the body of Christ united together as one. It is through our breaking down of these walls and stepping out of our comfort zones and titles that we will be able to actually begin making an impact to the world around us. Our walls, our differences of opinions, our differences of teaching do not mean that we should separate ourselves from one another. It just means that we are placed in different parts of the body. But the body must still function as a whole. I believe many of our churches today are dying because we have lost sight of what it means to be one body, one Spirit in the Lord. I believe that more and more people would open their hearts to Jesus if they could see true unity from the body.
                The ladies who come to the bible study I host, we do not all go to the same church. But that has not stopped the sisterly bond and, in fact, I believe it has strengthened our faith in Jesus because we were willing to step across the divisions of denominations and just be Christians. Paul shows us in Ephesians that we are to come to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God. (Ephesians 4:13) He does not say that we should be putting up walls. When we get to heaven it will not be Baptist to the right, Catholics to the Left, Non-Denominations to the back, because we will all just be Christians- no titles, not labels, just Christians. Your denomination or non-denomination is not going to be the only “church” in heaven, (sorry to burst your bubble) there will be other denominations and other churches there as well.
We are a body, which is joined together in One Man, Jesus Christ.(Ephesians 4:14-16)  As we pull and war within each other because one teaches this way, and another teaches that way, the body of Christ cannot fulfill the purpose it has been given by God the Father. What kind of testimony does the world see when we, as His children put up walls and barriers through denominations and labels? When we exalt our denomination or church name above another? How are we any different from the world?
                When we are willing to break down these barriers of denominations and labels and just seek to know Jesus in one another, then and only then will we be able to be the witnesses that we were created to be. Our impact, our testimony, and the gospel of Jesus Christ suffers when we cannot let go of our opinions and strip away the labels and titles we have given one another. I do not care what church building you go to, I do not care what denomination you are, I do not even care if your pastor teaches topical or line by line. All I want to know is, “Do you love Jesus?” If you do, then you are my brother, you are my sister, the rest is up to God.

                We need to break down these walls; these ideas and opinions we have built that separate us and become the true Unified Church that Jesus prayed we would become. Some of you may be asking how? How do we do that? I think we start by reaching out to one another, I believe we must step out of our comfort zone and be willing to do outreaches together, serve in the community together, and start being the church instead of just going to church. I pray the Lord Jesus would tear down our walls and challenge us to become His church, a unified witness for His glory to a lost and broken world. In Jesus Name, Amen and Amen.