One denomination says this, another says that. My denomination is superior because of this, yours is inferior because of that. Most are not holy enough, most worship on the wrong day of the week, only some follow all the rules (not possible to follow all of them), and most use the wrong version of the Bible. There are divisions about the gifts of the Spirit, whether we can celebrate Christmas, divisions over music and instruments, there are even divisions over the temperature in the room.
Have you heard any of this before? There are divisions in the body of Christ that are deep and wide. If that was not so, why are there so many denominations? Over the years, groups of people have broken off congregations for the reasons above and many more. I am sure that you can think of several reasons that I have not mentioned. You may belong to a certain denomination for one of these reasons. It may be a deeply held conviction for some, while others may be looking for a better cup of coffee. Either way, the church was not intended to be divided.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”
Unity. This is what was, and is, intended for followers of Christ. Jesus, in John 17, prayed that the church will become one unified body. Peter wrote about unity imploring, “all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous…” (1 Peter 3:8). Paul, being inspired by the Holy Spirit, had much to say on the topic of unity. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul states clearly and concisely what God’s view of unity is.
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all”. Ephesians 4:1-6
Again, in his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul pleads with his audience to think and speak the same things without there being any division. We should not concentrate on our differences; instead, we are to use the gifts that God has given each one of us for the edification of the church. We are to build each other up and help each other. Galatians 3:28 tells us again that we are all “one in Christ Jesus”.
In the epistle to the Philippians, Paul repeatedly tells us to be of one mind and to give up selfishness. Rather we should look out for “the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). After all, as we are told in verse five, this was the way of Jesus.
Is anyone else seeing that there is a unity in the scripture? We are not told once, but repeatedly throughout the New Testament how we are to behave towards one another, that we are to be like-minded living in unity. The book of Romans provides more examples. Romans 12:4-5 says, “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another”. We are one body. Just as our bodies work in unison, the body of Christ was also made to work together.
That is why we are called to be of the same mind and to pursue peace. We are to live in harmony, being of one accord---wholeness. We are one. We are the body of Christ. We have one God, one Savior, and there is one gospel. Let us put away strife, discord, and division.
I will close with one last reminder from Romans 15:5-6 which says,
“Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”.