Many years ago, I was very blessed to start my pulpit ministry in a small church in rural Idaho. Many of the people who counted themselves as members came from families who had done the same for over 100 years. As with all churches, they had a system and change of any sort needed to go through the right channels, but eventually they opened themselves up to opportunities, making themselves willing servants of God and the church prospered and grew.
Just a short time before I arrived they had found themselves in turmoil after a split in their church. Half of the members had gotten upset with the other half and had left to form their own church a few miles away in a neighboring community. Tension was high and forgiveness was in short supply.
They had, in their eyes, become two separate churches, forgetting that we are all called to work together as one church to form a more perfect union. Their idea of church had become partisan, one following one way of thinking, the other holding precious its own.
We do that a lot don’t we? When we think of church we think of a building and/or a group that worships within that building all having like ideas and similar beliefs. Seldom do we think of the church with the capital “C”. We get so lost in ourselves that we neglect the greater good of working together as one Church under God. We are easily offended because of our individual opinions and fail to grasp the kind of solution that can only come from proper communication. We focus on the differences, but we fail to see the power within the whole.
When Jesus was talking to Peter in Matthew 16:18 saying, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall nor prevail against it,” He wasn’t talking of building a church of brick and mortar but a church that included every believer working together to overcome evil with good. He wasn’t speaking of building a building with a nice view, He was talking about what Peter and the other Apostles had been called to do. His challenge to Peter was to use what He had learned to spread the Good News of salvation and to grow the whole church as one together under Christ.
The devil knows the value to him of breaking up the church. We are much weaker and more vulnerable divided then we are united. The more we learn to separate ourselves into individual groups, the easier it is for Him to get us to focus on our differences and not our similarities.
We have all been called as one church to, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). We have been asked to come together as one church, “Built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple to the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:20-22).
Together we all make up the church with the capital “C”. Instead of focusing on our differences, “Let us consider how to stir up one another in love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
As a believer, you are a part of something great, one church under God. Together we form His holy temple and together we can do amazing things in His name, if we remain united.
Having a home church is a great blessing and vital for personal spiritual growth, but let us not neglect to work together as God’s Church on earth. As one we have incredible power to make the Good News of salvation known. Our influence as a united force can do even more to help the hurting, feed the hungry, visit the stranger and cloth the naked. Together we can more successfully defeat the devil’s attempts to separate us. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, unite us as one to do great things in Your holy Name. Lead us to opportunities to work together as Your church with a capital “C”. Amen.