As Christians, you and I represent Christ to a broken world and I’m wondering about the messages we are sending.
Paul talked so often about the importance of unity in the church because we are supposed to be focused on sharing God’s love. If we can’t love each other … why would anyone want what we have?
Paul wrote in a letter to the Church in Corinth…
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.”1 Corinthians 1:10–12
We could simply change the names to say…
“I am a follower of Beth Moore.”
“I follow John MacArthur.”
“I follow Joel Osteen.”
“I follow Andy Stanley.”
“I follow _____________.”
Paul went on to say, “God sent me to…”
preach the Good News—and not with clever speech, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power.v. 17
When God’s people take sides barking and biting at each other … we hurt the message of Christ. And it’s a problem in the church at large.
Whenever Rev and I talk with someone who is struggling to surrender their lives through faith in Jesus, most of the time their problem is with the church.
The Church! And we ARE the church!
We are not called to build up an individual church leader’s ministry. We are called to tell people about Jesus.
We are all sinners … even our church leaders. Even the best of teachers don’t get it right all the time. And when we sinful people divide the church … everyone suffers. Both believers and non-believers get hurt in the process.
Social media only intensifies the problem by putting it all out there on a larger scale but the truth is, this has been a problem since the early church. Which is why Jesus prayed…
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are one—as You are in me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be in us so that the world will believe You sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and You are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent me and that You love them as much as You love me.“John 17:20–23
Wow, we’ve really messed that up, haven’t we?!
Christianity has been divided into so many groups, how is a non-believer supposed to know who or what to believe?
The Solution to The Problem in the Church
Focus on Jesus!
My prayer is that we would stop cheering on church leaders with whom we agree or bashing the ones with whom we disagree and that we would become intentional SEEKERS of God’s truth … of His Kingdom.
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need.Luke 12:31
I wrote a few weeks ago about my love of reading the Bible. The following is from that post…
Although, I used to be an avid reader of books written by Bible teachers, I’ve observed that although there are, I’m sure, many books which are Biblically sound … there are also others that contain a culture pleasing bias.
I don’t have the time or the energy to join the arguments about which teachings are Biblical and true and the ones that aren’t.
I feel God has called me to tell people about His transforming love.
Maybe He has called you to that as well.
I get it! It’s easier to talk about what is current and trending on Facebook and Twitter. It’s easier to focus on the current problem in the church than it is to start a conversation about Jesus and the Bible.
But Jesus is the One who really matters, isn’t He?
Your relationship and mine to the risen Christ is the only thing in life that has eternal implications.
The Life Application Bible Notes say the following about Paul’s words to the Corinthians…
We can spend a lifetime accumulating wisdom and yet never learn how to have a personal relationship with God. We must come to the crucified and risen Christ to receive eternal life and the joy of a personal relationship with our Savior.
Which is why I try so hard to stay out of divisive conversations.
I don’t want my personal “opinions” to turn someone away from knowing the joy of a personal relationship with Jesus. And I’m guessing you don’t want that either.
So, what can we do…
1. Love people!
All people! Even when it’s hard or when we don’t agree.
“I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”John 13:34–35
We are called to love like Jesus.
And I know people love to reference the times Jesus called out church leaders in order to justify what’s happening today. But we have to remember, Jesus KNEW what was in their hearts. You and I don’t have that ability. And we never will, we are called to love … not always agree, but love.
2. Tell them about Jesus!
Encourage people to become SEEKERS. Point them to the Bible and invite them to find out for themselves. Tell them your story … the way knowing and loving Jesus has changed your life.
You may think you don’t have much of a story or that you don’t know what to say but it’s not up to you and me bring people to faith – that’s the work of the Holy Spirit. You and I are called to “go and tell” and trust God to do the rest.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.Ephesians 3:20–21
You and I have no idea what God is able to accomplish in someone else’s life when we simply share our stories.
Pray for the church.
Pray for our church leaders.
Pray for everyone.
I read a devotion titled, “Is Prayerlessness a Sin?” in the book Power in Prayer by Andrew Murray the other day. In it he wrote…
We must see that prayerlessness, with the excuses we make for it, is a greater sin than we thought. It means that we have little taste or desire for fellowship with God. It shows that our faith rests more on our own work and efforts than on the power of God. It shows we have little sense of the heavenly blessing God waits to shower upon us. It means we are not ready to sacrifice the ease and confidence of the flesh for persisten pleading before God. It shows that the spirituality of our life and our abiding in Christ is too weak to allow us to prevail in prayer.
I have to admit, his words made me squirm. I’m guilty. We’re all guilty. We’re all sinners.
Which is why we need Jesus!
He is the power to forgive sin. He is the One who forgives sinners.
He is the One who is able to transform lives and unite His people.
He is the reason we are called “Christians.”
One final thought I’d like to share from the Life Application Bible Notes.
The young church at Antioch was a curious mixture of Jews and Gentiles. It is significant that this is the first place where the belivers were called Christians (or “Christ-ones”) because all they had in common was Christ—not race, culture, or even language. Christ’s love crosses all boundaries and unites all people.
May it be true of you and me. May we be the ones who focus on sharing the message of His love – by His grace and for His glory!
Thank you so much for joining me today.
And a thank you to BibleGateway.com for sources.
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