The Unity of Believers

One place exists in the world where people of all backgrounds and personalities should be able to join together peacefully.  Throughout history, many have used the maxim “divide and conquer” to gain or maintain power.  The idea is that many small groups that are divided amongst themselves are easier to conquer and control than one large, united group.  We see this strategy employed today, whether the division is along racial lines, economic lines, or other lines of division.  Many seek power by trying to divide into groups that will fight against each other.  Political parties are experts at developing divisions to put down their opposition.  But there is one place in the world where these divisions should have no effect, and that is among true believers in Christ.  The reason that these things should not divide true Christians is that what unites us is stronger than what divides us.  Between two believers, they are united in Christ, and that unity should override the other differences in personality or background that could divide them.  The Bible does point to times where believers should be separated from other believers who have given in to doctrinal heresy or who are living in repeated, unrepentant sin.  But the Bible also says a great deal about the unity of believers, and many divisions that we see today are not over doctrinal differences, but over differences in personality, background, or offense that should be forgiven.  But in these cases, we need to be united together as believers.

Perhaps one of the greatest divisions throughout history has been between Jew and Gentile, particularly between the Jewish people and the Arab nations around them.  This conflict literally goes back thousands of years to the time of Ishmael and Isaac, and it continues today as some nations wish to destroy Israel completely.  Neither wars nor peace treaties have ended this conflict, but one thing can break down the conflict, at least on an individual basis (even if we don’t see that peace on a grand scale between nations, since not every person in each nation accepts this type of peace).  The one thing that can break down the wall of conflict and bring peace is the death and resurrection of Christ.  Ephesians 2:11-12 says, “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.”  Paul reminds the Ephesian church that they are Gentiles.  They were not part of the nation of Israel.  They were from the city of Ephesus, in modern day Turkey, and they were not of Jewish descent.  But now they are united with people of Jewish descent.  Ephesians 2:13-14 says, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.”  In Christ, Jew and Gentile can be united.  Christ broke down the wall of partition between the Jews and the Gentiles.  Instead of being divided along national lines, they are now united in Christ.  After thousands of years of conflict, they can be united together.  Ephesians 2:19 says, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”  As Christians, we can be part of the household of God, and we can be united together.

We should be united together as believers, because that unity can overcome the divisions that try to pull us apart.  When we come to church with fellow believers, many things threaten to divide us.  Perhaps we have a different personality than someone else, and the way that he does things rubs us the wrong way.  Perhaps we have offended someone in the past, or perhaps they have offended us.  In that case, there should be forgiveness.  Perhaps we simply don’t have much in common with others; we have our own interests, and they have their own interests.  Perhaps we are from a different generation from someone else, being much older or much younger.  But what brings us together to church is our faith in Christ, and that is something we have in common.  That unifying factor should override the other petty differences that divide us.  Because we are united in Christ, we must be united together as believers.

–Pastor Tim

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