We must cease thinking that the Church is a gathering of institutions and organizations, and we must get back the notion that we are the people of God. (M. Lloyd-Jones)
One thing keeping the church from multiplying is division. But this is a fact of life dating back to the beginning. Contention among people has been consistent in every generation. Paul the Apostle declared, “Now, dear brothers and sisters, I appeal to you by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ to stop arguing among yourselves. Let there be real harmony so there won’t be divisions in the church. I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” There will always be differences of opinion, but we must learn to disagree and accept differences without becoming divisive.
For years I conducted services at Hope Chapel, a church in the middle of a maximum-security prison. Whites, blacks and Hispanics attended and worshipped together, but at times they had trouble relating to one another. They found it difficult to crucify their color and race in Christ and walk in unity. In any number of services, you would hear me confronting the issue of division and saying, “Guys, there is an old expression—blood is thicker than water. But there is something thicker than blood; and that is Spirit. We are one in Christ. Our blood and body is temporary and corrupt. But the new body we will receive is spiritual—it will never perish. Our spiritual family is forever, so learn to get along because Spirit is thicker than blood.”
“What is our hope as followers of Jesus? It is not to be with the Lord forever … if anyone claims to be in the Lord’s family and has no expectation of heaven … his is an empty profession. All who have this hope are one, for since we have the hope of being together for all eternity, how can we be divided in time? If we are going to share the same future, shall we not gladly share the same present?” (Watchman Nee). We travel on numerous roads—that’s life. Each road provides a host of possibilities and choices; that’s privilege. But no matter which way we go—division among believers is wrong. Christ said, “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.” “Live well, live wisely, live humbly. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition or self-seeking, there you will find disorder and every kind of evil” (Apostle James).