Summary: What is the source and power of a unified church? The Bible gives us a beautiful explanation in Ephesians. All eyes focused on Jesus!
Church Membership - I love the Church of The Nazarene.
Do I believe that we are the only true church? No!
Do I believe that we have every doctrine interpreted with 100% accuracy as the Lord intended? No!
Am I a peace with and in agreement with how the Church of The Nazarene interprets the Bible? Yes.
If we are in disagreement with the Word of God would we be humble enough to admit it and receive correction by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God? I hope so!
Unity in the church is not only important, it is the desire of the Lord Himself!
Let me give you an example of church disunity …
Here is a true story about the Presbyterian church splits in the little town of Centerville, Ga., — population of around 5,000 people. It all started with one original Presbyterian church that had an internal conflict around 1911 over whether to take up the offering before or after the sermon. The splitting-off church became the “Centerville Reformed Presbyterian Church.” Just four years later another church split occurred over whether to have flowers in the sanctuary or not. The church that split off was renamed “Trinity Reformed Presbyterian Church of Centerville.”
A total of seven more splits happened between 1915 and 1929 over various issues, and by 1931 the latest addition was named “Third Westminster Trinity Covenant Presbyterian Reformed Church of Centerville.” More church splits occurred between 1931 and 1975 over the conservative/liberal bifurcation within that denomination.
Since 1975 a few more church splits over various issues has brought the total number of church splits in that one town for that one denomination to 48 — apparently a record. The last one was over whether or not it was a violation of the Sabbath Day to check your email on your personal computer. The church split over that “issue” — some folks left the Second Street First Ninth Westminster Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church and renamed their new church:
“The Presbyterian Totally Reformed Covenantal Westminsterian Sabbatarian Regulative Credo-Communionist A Millennial Presuppositional Church of Centerville.”
I’m not making this up folks, the truth is often stranger than fiction. A teaching elder (Paul Davis) in the PTRCWSRCCAPCC was quoted as saying “I think we’ve finally got it right now, we have a church with 100 percent doctrinal purity. We’re up to 6 people on Sundays now — I know that numbers are not important, but we’re hoping to grow a little more.”
We laugh at this but it really should make us cry!
What is the cure for this? Well, let’s take a look in God’s Holy Word!
Ephesians 3:14 - 4:16 (to be read from the Bible with the congregation reading along - as you read along - expound on various aspects of what the text is revealing and how it impacts the church - this of course is high-level and digging deep into the text could take weeks. I did this without really referencing other passages and it took about 15 minutes. The awesome exaltation of the Lord at the end of Ch. 13 was also used as the benediction at the end of the service.