John 17:20-23 – “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 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. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 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.” NKJV
In 1 Corinthians 13, commonly identified as the Love Chapter of the Bible, we find the characteristics of love. This chapter provides a powerful look into our hearts and a pattern by which we should strive to live. As revealed in the text above, the expressed desire and prayer of our LORD Jesus was for love to prevail in the Body of Christ and that we ALL BE ONE!
The Body of Christ is not divided, yet we see division, dissension, and discord among professing followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s Plan is Unity of the Faith. Jesus came to give us life, and that life was to be Abundant, and He is our common ground. The greatest hindrance to the work of the Kingdom and personal spiritual development today is Disunity. Likewise, the devil would like nothing better than to destroy the local church, especially those who seek the Unity of the Spirit.
I ask that you consider a few specifics that will benefit our Christian walk and warfare.
- Born-again People Constitute the Body of Christ.
Every truly born-again person is a member of the Body of Christ. I am speaking specifically about the biblical experience of the “new birth” in Jesus Christ. It begins with repentance – “Confess and Forsake.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if any man (person) is in Christ, he is a new creature (creation); the old things have passed away, behold, new things have come.”
We read in John 3:16 about God’s love and plan. In Romans 10:9-10 we find confession of sin, and in verse 13, the revelation that “if” we call upon His name, we will be saved. In 1 John 1:9, we read, “For if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Repentance is the full realization of one’s sin and a change of attitude, heart, and direction. Biblical repentance involves conviction of sin, with a sense of condemnation, godly sorrow, and the forsaking of sin. It is a 180-degree turn.
- God Extends Fellowship To All Believers.
Not just those who practice your particular brand of doctrine or preference. God extends His fellowship to people of varying opinions about various doctrines. He accepts them, but we often exclude them because they are not like us. We are too often major on minors straining at gnats and swallowing camels. The hand is not the ear, and the ear is not the eye. We have different preferences, but we require the same air to breathe.
- The Basis of Fellowship Is Life, Not Opinion.
It would serve us well to acknowledge and remember that all truly born-again believers have the same Spiritual Father. That truth is the only hope we have of achieving that for which Jesus prayed, “That they all be one….”
Biblical Unity is not possible aside from Agape Love, our source of Hope and Unity. That means our love for the Family of God will have to exceed our devotion to personal opinions and non-essentials to salvation. Remember, Love Covers! Love Covers!
I will tread on thin ice with some by saying that fellowship is more important than believing that you have the absolutely correct theology. Please, refrain from any thought that it is a call to compromise your convictions but realize that you might not be 100% accurate in everything.
I believe that the greatest sin and hindrance in the Church is Disunity. The problem of building walls and barriers and infighting among various elements of Christianity does far more harm and alienates more than virtually anything else. God hates the sowing of discord among brothers. Having the right spirit is as important, if not more important, than making accurate decisions.
The Bible is so strong on Disunity and Discord that it says, “MARK THEM which cause divisions.” (Romans 16:17). The devil will never defeat the local church from the outside. I conclude that Romans 16:17 says to mark one group of people, and Philippians 3:17 says to mark another group. The first group is those who cause division, and the second group is those who set the right example. Mark them both but avoid the first and flock to the second. You can choose your attitude.
God bless you as you go through this day!