Summary: I do not believe that God is pleased with the divisions within the Body of Christ that cripple our witness. Where do we draw the line on division and acceptance with one another?
DIVISION AND UNITY
By Pastor Jim May
We live in an age when there are great divisions within the church. I have no doubt that I am considered too liberal by some standards, but then there are others, even more liberal than I, who consider me to be too strict and legalistic. Where do we draw the line, and who is right? That’s a question that no one but God can answer.
I can give you a simple example of how the divisions work.
As you drive along the highway of your city, there are people driving the same speed as your are, there are those who are traveling slower than you are and there are those who are traveling faster than you.
First of all, believe it or not, it is a natural assumption that I am the only one who is right. Of course I am right, after all, I pay my taxes to keep the roads up, my trip is important and I must reach my destination safely and in a timely manner. I have a good driving record. I pay the note on my vehicle and keep it well maintained and I do my best to be a courteous and good driver. Most importantly, I know the laws of the land pertaining to safe operation of a motor vehicle and I do my best to obey all of them most of the time. Because of all of these factors in my favor, I must therefore, be the one who is driving correctly.
Now that I have made this first assumption that I am the only one who is driving in the right manner, then there are two immutable conclusions that I must make.
1)All drivers on the highway that are driving slower than I am are idiots who should speed up or get out of the way because they are causing everyone to have to go too slow. They should be traveling at the same speed as me. After all, I am the only one right.
2)All drivers on the highway that are driving faster than I am are crazy and should slow down. They are obviously speeding and creating dangerous situations for me, the only good driver. Where’s a police officer when you need them? That speeder needs driving lessons so that he can learn to drive right, like me. In fact, everyone should take lessons from me.
Now there is no doubt in your mind, if you are following me, or passing me on the highway, that I fall into one of those two categories that I just named. But what you must realize is that I am the only one right, so by default, that makes you wrong.
That may all seem funny, but if you think about it, that’s exactly how all of us react. Everything and everyone around us is judged in some manner by our own set of rules and personal convictions. All of us tend to build our own set of values based upon personal experiences, training background and the circumstances that we have all through life.
The problem with our value system is that every one of us has different personal experiences, different levels of education and training, and certainly our own personal set of circumstances in life. Because of those differences then, it is easy to see that all of us will have our own personal set of values, but those values can often be based upon incorrect training or wrong decisions.
I said all of that to make this simple point. Not one of us is perfect, and not one of us has all the right answers, no matter how much might assume that we do.
It is this same type of thinking process that brings about the divisions in the church. Those divisions are often referred to as denominations. We are known by our denominational name. If you say that you are Baptist – people will have an understanding of what you believe. If you say that you are a Pentecostal Church of God – people will know what you believe. If you say that you are Apostolic – people will know what you believe. If you say that you are Catholic or Protestant – there will be a basic understanding of your differences in belief. There are a lot of people who don’t want to be associated with any denomination, so they call themselves non-denominational, or inter-denominational, but even then, we know what they stand for so you can’t get away from being judged by your chosen affiliation in the church.
Now I don’t want to say that we should all become one faith, one church, or one inter-denominational religious order. That’s what the devil is attempting to bring about right now and the Bible definitely speaks against such things.