I remember a time my wife before we were married told me about a sermon she heard. The sermon was about how the church needs to break free of its divisions and work together.
My first thought was this: If he’s telling us to break free of divisions, what’s his agenda? The logical conclusion of what will happen when you “break free of divisions” is you break your convictions and join a whole new set of convictions. And that isn’t “being free of divisions.” You’re simply changing what you’re going to be divided on.
There is no such thing as being free of divisions. That will always be. It’s part of the structure of how God made everything. You are either a sheep or a goat. You are either a man or a woman. You are either for God or against God. And yes, either you’re a baptist or a Presbyterian.
The only way to be free of a division is for God to recreate a whole new world where there are no divisions or distinctions in matter and things. Which can’t happen because you’d still have the creator/creation division.
Now, let me back up to what the preacher was saying. Obviously he wasn’t meaning to break free of all divisions. I’d assume he agrees with the creation/creator distinction. I’d assume he agrees with all sorts of distinctions and things that divide us. What he was getting at was mainly that churches need to work together. And this is where the problem truly began.
What is a church?
You see, to say we need to stop being divided and start working together isn’t helpful. Especially if you aren’t going to define who “we” are and “what we” are working together for. The we is “the church.” So, once he defines what and who the church is and what the church is to do then we can start doing that together.
And that is why it’s a problem. People don’t want definitions because it’s those pesky definitions that cause divisions. “We believe in baptism!” Great, praise God. What is baptism and who is it for? “Oh, no. We can’t define that. It would cause division.”
“We believe in making disciples!” Great, awesome, praise God! What does it mean to “make disciples?” What is a disciple? How do you make one?
You see, in today’s social Christian gatherings done on Sunday mornings and sometimes evenings, perhaps even Saturday evening, definitions are things that must happen behind closed doors that only the elect few can know. To speak about it from the stage is pesky business. The people want a theatrical play and ambiguous words so they can get pleasure out of it any way they want and leave feeling good about themselves. They want to be “encouraged” and feel “refreshed” so that they are “recharged for the next week.” And to all that I say, whaaaaa?
What’s it mean to be encouraged; refreshed; recharged for the next week?
“Can’t ask those questions. If you want to know become a member of our staff, you’ll be told the secret things.”
No thanks. I pass. If you have secret things only an elite know then I can’t even say I know what you’re talking about. You may say, “Follow Christ.” I’ll take that to mean, “Follow the Christ described in the Bible.” But secretly you mean, “Follow a few of his words and ignore the parts that are difficult because that’s what I do.”
As you can tell, anyone telling me to “stop being divided and learn to work together,” is ignoring why we’re divided and if it’s division that’s actually preventing us from working together; and if we even agree about what we’re to work together for.
Division is fine. I have no problem with division. To be divided is okay in my book. But, to be divided on the wrong things is not okay. For example: Division in how one should baptize, no problem. Division on why we baptize, major problem. If one person says, “We’re baptizing you so you can be saved,” I go, “You’re redefining salvation.” If another person says, “We’re baptizing you because you professed Jesus Christ as Lord over all and you desire to obey Him,” then great, I’m okay with you and am glad to be unified with you.
You see, definitions have consequences. And if you’re trying to get people together by telling them to stop being divided then you have essentially done nothing. You lead people into working together by getting them to agree. Not on everything but on what’s the mission. What are we all doing?
What a church should be doing is preaching the gospel. But not every church preaches the gospel and some churches preach a defected and false gospel.
So if you feel the church is divided, maybe you need to realize that you’re the one dividing. Christ is ruler of His body and His sheep hear His voice. If other sheep hear His voice and follow Him then I know who those sheep are because they’re already walking with me. I don’t need to work on working together! I’m already working with them.
The person I’m obviously not working with is you because you’re telling me I’m not working with you. To tell me that I need to stop being divided I go, “Huh? Who’s side are you on if we’re divided?”
I’m not divided from Christ’s body at all. I am divided from those who think they’re in Christ’s body. And that’s a whole other issue.
So if you’re going to preach to me that the church needs to work together, I’m naturally going to ask: What are you talking about? God said in His word that we are being built up into a beautiful temple. God said we are His bride. God said He’s building us up. God said through Paul that we’re building one another up in love. So… If you’re not being built up with me and aiming towards what God desires us to aim towards, then perhaps you’re causing division because you are divided from us? Because from where I stand, all God’s sheep are listening to Him and following Him.
So who are you listening to and following? Who is your god and your christ? What is the gospel you believe? Because it sure smells like it ain’t the one I believe.
But now you’re being divisive Truth! Asking for definitions! How dare you. We obviously believe in the gospel, god, and christ!
Well, duh. Of course you do. They’re just a different gospel, god, and christ. That’s all. And God will divide the sheep from the goats.
Oh, wait. God divides? Weird.