Christ's Church is to be Unified
By Benjamin H. Liles
How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! ~ Psalm 133:1, Holman Christian Standard
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but enjoy the company of the lowly. Do not be conceited. ~ Romans 12:16, Berean Study
When I think of how far i have come over the past year or so in my walk with Christ I see a man that's totally different than when he first started doing God's will in his life. Don't get me wrong, I still sin. I'm not going to be perfect this side of Heaven, but I can at least tell, and others can too, that I strive to allow God to be made manifest in my life. How does this relate to this Article's topic of the Christian Church being united? Simply this: through Christ we are made to be like Him in His death, having put off deeds of darkness off for newness of life where when He arose from the grave we will also arise when He comes back.
Modern thinking tells us we should strive to be at peace with all peoples. And while I agree to a degree, I can't shake off this feeling within me that it's not what Christ was meaning when He gave remembrance to His apostles through the Holy Spirit. Paul writes, "Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ" (Ephesians 4:3, 11-13, New Living Translation).
We're told, in other words, we are to be bound together as His Church. We are to teach and encourage one another, building each one up in Christ, continuing on in faith and knowledge of God's Son that we be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. That's it. We, as His body, are to be mature, one with one another, lifting up, admonishing, and helping each other be sufficiently equipped to keep going with the gospel message, which Christ first uttered, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17, New American Standard). What does this mean for us all? Ever since Christ came to offer His life "as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45), He is near all who call on Him and accept Him in faith as Lord and Savior.
Now, this next part is regarded as a bit harsh. But Christ also said, "Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘A man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household’" (Micah 7:6, Matthew 10:34-36, Berean Study). He's saying not all peoples of all religions will be unified with His Church. Rather, He will call imperfect people, people still entrenched in sin to be part of His body. Seriously, where did we ever get the notion we had to clean ourselves up to become His? It's never been taught by Jesus or His disciples.
Rather, as His people, we are called to "[take] off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; you put on the new self, the one created according to God's likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth. Since you put away lying, Speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another" (Ephesians 4:22-25, Holman Christian Standard, in bold are what it means to be one in Christ's body, His Church). We are to partake in one another's lives, to strengthen each other, to speak in both truth and love. But nowhere are we ever told to "Knock it off with sinning! You won't get anywhere in life with that." We will still make mistakes, we are not fully in His image until we get home to Heaven.
I admit I am as evangelical as others, maybe a bit more, or even a bit less (for I don't think that much better of myself). I want the truth to be told. I want the message Christ was giving His life for, the truth He told about who He was, where He came from, and how we can become more like Him -- I want all of that to be known and told, and in that regard I can honestly say, I think I measure up where Christ says, "No one lights a lamp and puts it in a cellar or under a basket. Instead, he sets it on a lampstand, so those who enter can see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your vision is clear, your whole body also is full of light. But when it is poor, your body is full of darkness. Be careful, then, that the light within you is not darkness. So if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it in darkness, you will be radiant, as though a lamp were shining on you" (Luke 11:33-36, Berean Study).
Notice Christ is talking about a lamp in these verses. I may partake in the light being seen, but that light isn't mine. Christ is the lamp, I'm merely the stand, the vessel in which He is seen. So ought the Church be. We are called to be a light to this world, to this age, which so desperately needs Christ, His love, His truth. We are called to call by Him to call out of others what Christ sees in them, a need to be made whole. Remember, Christ set captives free from sin and death. He called them and made them whole. We need to do the same thing, not align ourselves with other major religions of this world. Rather, we are called by God to unify His body in this place. We are called His ambassadors for a reason. If we preach Christ and yet partake in the sins of the world, do we not show ourselves to still have darkness in us? Rather, we put off former things and we run for the prize set before us, that which is Christ, from whom all blessings flow.
With all of that said, today marks Thanksgiving here in the States. I'm thankful for much. I am thankful for my health, for a roof over my head, which I believe God gives me. It's not a right or a freedom, for tomorrow I could be as homeless as the next man. Rather, I thank Him who gives all things by the power of His hand so as to bring Him glory. I hope this article blesses you and you can see where my heart lies with God. I love Him and the result is I love you too. As it's said in scripture, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13, New American Standard). Go forth in this season and show God thanks for all He has done in your life as well as others. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.