I was listening to a speaker recently about how the persecuted church in many countries struggle to meet in regular ways as we do in the West.
Yet despite the trials and suffering, he asked us (in the west) not to pray for less persecution. This struck me as backward to our western thinking. He asked us to pray for strength during the persecution.
All I have is Christ
It’s easy for us to sing about only needing and having the Lord Jesus and yet, in reality, I wonder how true that is. As I think about Bernadette’s article on what divides the church it seems in many assemblies it’s Jesus plus _________ (whatever hangup that assembly has).
So let’s think about this possibility. What if we were to focus only on pointing both believers and non-believers to Jesus? We don’t add anything to Him. We promote Christ in everything.
Jesus’ impact on our lives
If Jesus is all we need how should that impact us? Let’s say a believer comes into your fellowship who has a problem with drugs. He’s looking for hope because his life is a mess and he’s desperate. What do you tell him?
“Don’t do drugs! When you are clean you are welcome to come back.” What this person needs is a heavy dose of Jesus love!
How about a believer who believes she can lose her salvation? Or maybe she thinks that speaking in tongues is still valid for the church. Our tendency is for us to “guide” her to a different church where she might be more “comfortable”. In reality, we really want her out of our hair because she makes US uncomfortable.
Do we really believe it?
Do we really believe that Jesus is enough? Do we really believe that if a brother or sister sat at the feet of the Lord Jesus they would grow in their faith? Or do we need to see signs in their lives that they believe the exact same thing we do?
This gets very practical. We want to make everyone act, talk and believe the same as us. We think somehow that unity is more achievable this way. It’s not. Unity isn’t about looking all the same.
Unity is about the bond we have in Christ. I fully believe that the Lord Jesus cares nothing about us having the same preferences, clothing styles, musical tastes, preferred Bible translation, views on head covering, end times timetables, how old children should be when they get baptized etc. This list could be a mile long.
Jesus wants fellowship
We know that he is standing at the door knocking (Rev 3:20). He wants to come in. Why? To teach us new songs or give us new clothes or a better Bible? No. He wants to hang out with us. He wants to eat a meal with us. He wants to laugh and talk and share His life with us.
I used to think that these preference issues were somewhat important. Now I don’t believe that. They have zero importance to unity. In fact, giving them any value at all hinders unity.
How do we change our attitude?
This is pretty simple. Our attitude will only change when we stop focusing on ourselves and we get our eyes back on Jesus alone. He takes care of all these issues when we are sold out to him and ONLY him.
The church is a necessary and vital part of living as a Christian. But the moment it replaces our need for Jesus it has become an idol. The moment we make the church of greater importance than Jesus in order to fellowship with others we have crossed the line and gone too far.
Let’s turn our eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. Only there will we find the power and wisdom to strive for unity in a much divided church.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any other author or an official position of the assemblyHUB team.