Matthew 12:25: Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.
In high school I attended a predominantly white, middle class church in the suburbs. At one point in time, this church partnered with another church that was predominantly black, and in a considerably less affluent area.
The churches had a pretty good arrangement—we helped out them with some repairs that need to be done around their church, and they helped us with construction at our church, and on a coffee house that we are in the process of starting. There were even a few Sundays when the pastors preached at the opposite church.
The alliance between the churches was a good thing. It helped both groups to combat some stereotypes that they might have held, and it provided a good example of a diverse group of believers working towards a common goal. The alliance between the two churches may still exist today—I’m not sure.
Both churches held the same fundamental beliefs about the God, Jesus, the Bible and salvation. In other words, the people at each church agreed that the people at the other church would go to heaven if they had a relationship with God through grace by faith. Both churches also agreed that it was a good thing to help out other believers.
However, even though there was unity on the main issues, there was still some criticism that came along with the alliance. I remember hearing people at my church say things like "I can’t believe that we partnered with such a theologically different church." After all, the other church was a bit more expressive in their worship—they typically said things like "Amen" during the sermon and sang with their hands up. Furthermore, unlike at our church, the service duration sometimes wandered outside of 75 minutes. Finally, the other church was a bit more charismatic theologically—and they discussed topics like prophesy, speaking in tongues and supernatural healing.
It scares me as I reflect back on this criticism. We are called to be part of one body in Christ. We are called to unite in Him to spread the news of the Gospel.
Unfortunately, some of the worst offenders of divisive practices are the people who are allegedly most spiritual. Seminaries and Bible colleges quickly teach students how to divide themselves up between free will or predestination, dispensational or covenant theology, evangelical or charismatic, orthodox or unconventional.
I do not say this to be anti-intellectual or to abhor theological study. There is much value and richness in such training. However, there is grave danger in letting this resurrect walls between groups of people that should be united.
Jesus tells us a house divided against itself cannot stand. Our world is filled with lonely and hurt people who desperately need to be immersed in the love and hope of Christ. We ought not shirk our responsibility to them because we don’t see eye-to-eye on issues we all agree are not fundamental.
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