Racism, gender, age, politics and religion are among the many issues that divide people. But one place where unity should be evident is in the Church (defined here as the sum total of all believers from the day of Pentecost following Christ’s resurrection until Christ returns) In Christian circles we refer to the Church as the “Body of Christ,” where Christ rules as the Head and each individual believer is a member of the whole. Each member or body part has a unique function, or role, to carry out for the purpose of edifying other members and to bear witness to the glory of Christ, to a watching world.
So, how is that working out? A look at signs identifying church denominations in most any town in America points to division, not unity. We see Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, etc. We see the Church Body segregated by race and, more and more, we see segregation by age groups. We are further segregated by music styles and even teaching styles.
Some Christ-followers have pulled away from fellowship with the Body altogether. Barna research estimates as many as 13 million professing “born again” believers are “un-churched.” “Too many hypocrites,” “Too many pastors/priests exposed as frauds,” “Too many rules to follow,” are reasons you may hear from your “un-churched” friends. Let’s face it; many have not recovered from wounds received from church leaders or church members in the past.
How do we build unity, without compromising the essentials? Focus on the essentials! Glorify God by exalting Jesus Christ in all things; equip and edify disciples of Christ to grow in the knowledge of Christ and their new identity in Him, so they might fulfill their purpose in the Body, and in the community. In Matthew 28:18-20 Christ says, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” It takes a disciple to make a disciple. Christ wanted the disciples, as one Body, to convey the reality of the Gospel with their lives, as they communicated the Gospel with their words.
We were never meant to live the Christian life in separation from the Body of Christ. Ephesians 4:15-16 explains our purpose together: “But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, cause the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” No doubt about it, as Christ-followers who desire to impact this world for His glory, we are better together!
Carmen Pate is a Principal with Alliance Ministries. Learn more about discovering your place in God’s story at www.allianceministries.org.