I am constantly amazed at how we let little things divide us. Rather than coming together over our commonalities, we instead find reason to exclude and push away because of our differences. The most common dividers seem to be race, gender, money, and religion. Unfortunately, we allow these differences to carry over into our churches. This is against Scripture.
When I read the Old Testament, I gain a sense of God’s people being used to reach others, to be a blessing to the people around them who would embrace God and worship Him. We see God including foreigners into the line of Messiah. How else do you explain a prostitute from Jericho (Rahab) or a Moabitess who had lost everything, including her husband (Ruth) as ancestors to King David and therefore to Jesus? Also, there are passages in the Torah (Deuteronomy) about accepting the alien/sojourner and treating him or her well. Fast forward to the New Testament and we see Jesus ministering to Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. If that’s not enough, we have powerful words like the following:
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith,one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. – Ephesians 4:4-6, ESV
The idea Paul was writing about was a catholic Church. I use the lowercase to differentiate from the denomination we call Catholicism. I mean the universal Church underneath Jesus Christ, the one body Paul wrote of in his letter to the Ephesians. In this passage of three verses there are two important words repeated: one and all. That repetition is intentional. Paul was drawing attention to this idea of unity. Our catholic Church is centered in Jesus Christ. Our faith is placed in Him. We were baptized to identify with Him. He came from the Father. And we are all to tie back through these core beliefs.
We all know that a lot of what goes on in churches today does not follow this idea of unity. There are agendas. People play politics. Power struggles happen too often between deacons and pastors. Business meetings can devolve into contentious affairs. The ideal of one body being led by one Spirit isn’t seen. This has given quite a few people an easy excuse as to why they choose to avoid any and every body of Christ.
The reality is that the folks who act contrary to a catholic Church under Jesus Christ will have to answer for their behavior. If we are among those people, we will have to stand before the Great White Throne and give an accounting for our resistance to what God expected of us. How far better would it be for us to be congratulated by God for trying to live the vision of one body and one Spirit believing in the one hope that we have in Jesus Christ! And we can!
When you were called by God to be part of His family, He gave you the ability to be part of the one body. It wasn’t up to you. It was His task, His responsibility, and He does not fail. Part of seeing that through is giving you Someone who could help you move past your barriers and limits. You see, He gave each of us the one Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to guide us. You were designed to be part of a unified body whose headship is Jesus Christ. We’re not talking extended family, but close family, immediate family. This is how God designed you. This is how the Spirit wants to lead you. There’s an important part for you to play within the family that He has established.
This all comes back to where your vision is. Is your vision on those who choose not to participate as members of the one body? Are you letting them discourage you or cause you to believe that you’ll never be part of the family? Or is your vision on what God has set aside for you to do as part of His family? I hope it’s the latter. After all, this is the life God would have you live. This is the calling for every Christian. Let us answer that call. Let us please Him because we love Him. Let us enter into His joy as part of His family.