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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Unity Among Believers

        I am going to deviate from my normal course of Bible study this week to make reference to a topic that caught my attention on a blog called The Christian Church Blog by Bruce Moar. I was reading an interesting post by Bruce this week on the topic of unity among followers of Jesus Christ. You can read this post and perhaps some of his other posts to get the full scope of his message, but the gist of the message is that Christian faiths need to come together in the commonality of the belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Please take note that Bruce's post only drew my attention and made me think. I am not necessarily promoting his agenda, but just calling your attention to it.

            Many of you have probably wondered why there are so many Christian denominations. This is not something that has happened in the last few hundred years, but it was a concern even in the early days of Christianity. Paul said the following about divisions in the Church :

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?
1 Corinthians 1:10-13 (NIV)

          Let's face it, we are a world of many individuals, each with different needs, wants, understandings, and interpretations. Our churches have in some ways become like social clubs, which in one way is fine as long as the ultimate message is true. Unfortuately this often does not happen. Even within individual churches there is often disagreement about what exactly we should believe, what the mission of the church should be, or even how the money should be spent. The disagreements are as diverse as the individuals who are involved. It is human nature; any social grouping will at one time or another face conflict. But is this what going to church should be about?

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)

          Much of the disunity of the Christiain faith comes through political divisions and agendas, while other comes from persuasive individuals who promote their visions to the uninformed and the gullible. Our individual responsibility is to educate ourselves. We need to study the Bible and pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit. Education about spiritual matters should be ongoing throuhout our entire lives. We need to have open eyes, open ears, and clear minds so we are not deceived. Everything we need to know is in the Bible, we just need to approach it with a clear and sensible mind. And remember, not all Bibles are exactly the same. There are translations from different eras and for different agendas. Careful study will help us find the one that is the most true.

Jesus also prayed this;

"My prayer is not for them (the disciples) alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."
JOHN 17: 20-26

         We must be cautious. Test what you hear and read with prayer, reasoning, and careful study of God's word. Falling into a trap is what the enemy Satan wants us to do. And many times that trap appears to be so right and enticing. Sometimes we even set ourselves up as easy prey for the enemy. Know your enemy and his tricks, but ultimately seek to know God and His glory and all of the truths that are of God.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
2 Timothy 4:3 (NIV)

What are some of your thoughts on this?

4 comments:

  1. Most thought provoking topic,
    I must admit when I knew my husband had only months to live it was only three days after my mothers' passing, I did question my beliefs and wondered why God should want my husband after taking my mother from me. I thought I had done something wrong , all sorts of questions went through my head. I had a word with the minister of the church I belong to and had numerous discussions, After my husband's passing it took years to accept what life had dealt me, once I had accepted then gradually my life and faith returned.

    Yvonne.

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  2. Referring to the first part of your post - religion is from man, relationship from God. Denominations are 'religion.'

    Imagine where Christianity would be if we all just followed God's teachings in the Bible, without denominations? Wow!

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  3. Amen! So many would rather find a church that accepts whatever the person wishes to do, rather than face the changes one might have to make to be acceptable to God. It's about what God says, not about what we think. Well said!

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  4. Not being Christian, I believe there are many paths to God.

    Any study of religious history will show that even Christianity has basis in older religions. And is wrought with all sorts of contradictions.

    I find it hard to believe that God would condemn a Buddhist who never hurts a flea and is the model of religious living, while rewarding a Mafia guy because he goes to confession, repents, and believes in Christ.

    But I know, I am perhaps of a minority of your readers since I do not believe the Bible is 100% God's doing. Too many humans had their hand in translation (and the interpretation that goes with translating) to make it absolute.

    Really, if God wanted us to have a single truth, I really believe he would have given it to us. I don't think he has a need for the petty tests. "Here is the TRUTH, follow it or not", I think would be his take. There is enough challenge just in following one path, let alone having to figure out which ONE is the truth.

    Most religions believe they are the correct one, fervently. People have been killed over such disputes.

    I think it is not so important which "truth" is followed, but that the lessons carried by each of kindness, and rightful living is done to the best of our ability. All else is window dressing and can change by the whim of a religious leader's (Pope, Minister, etc) interpretation.

    Just my take.... :)

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