God called me into the ministry when I was twelve. He used a passage of Scripture from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. In the Old Testament, He used the Prophet Ezekiel to illustrate the seriousness and weightiness of the Call. From the New Testament, He used the prayer of Jesus (John 17) to reveal His heart for unity among believers.
From the time I was five, I have been blessed with the opportunity to sing and play music to Christians of many denominations. I have been honored to lead crazy Pentecostals and quiet Presbyterians, and most everyone in between. One of the many things God showed me through my experiences was that He has a lot of people earnestly desiring His presence even if they search for it in different ways.
Sadly, denominational personalities and minor beliefs have often separated us from each other. Make no mistake, this is a work of the devil. Even the disciples were very different from one another, yet they all seemed to get along – at least eventually. When Peter first had the revelation for preaching to Gentiles, James was about ready to kick him to the curb. After listening to Peter’s testimony however, James became the man who turned the vote. The rest is history. This Gentile is very grateful!
If you will forgive the simplification, the first council meeting in Jerusalem ended with just 2 doctrines. Stay away from food tainted by idols and have nothing to do with immorality. (Still excellent guidance.)
Later Councils would directly deal with various heresies and the attempts by errant leaders to take the church off course. The Apostles Creed was composed as an attempt to clearly differentiate true believers from heretical ones. Paul wrote that people who preached anything different from the gospel that was first presented, were never really a part of God’s Church. We do well to remember this as well.
Heretics aside, the true Church of Jesus Christ needs to come together as never before. We must stop splitting doctrinal hairs and evaluating our differences. We must also stop competing against one another and looking for ways to appease people instead of pleasing God.
We must stop looking for ways to tear one another down and start working to exhort, encourage and lift up. If someone is weak in the faith, those who are stronger must do as Paul exhorted; bear with them and help hold them up.
As you consider this, remember what Jesus said almost two millennia before Abraham Lincoln repeated it, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Let’s get it together! Shalom.