Oh Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary,
Pure and holy, tried and true.
With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living,
Sanctuary for You.
When you look at this picture, what is the first thing that you notice? Is it that all the flowers within this image are roses? Is it that they all have petals, all have stems and leaves. Or is it that there is one white rose, amongst twelve red ones?
Last year, I studied church history, and it was both sad and amazing seeing all the little things that split the church again, and again, and again: unleavened vs leavened bread, one cup or many cups, one doctrine vs another doctrine, and so on. The church keeps splitting and segregating itself, even though in John 17:20-23, Jesus prayed: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
Why did the church split again and again, and keeps splitting itself today? over instruments, or having a kitchen or gymnasium in the church building, or King James or nonKing James? Because we tend to focus on the differences, instead of what we have in common. We notice that, “Oh, you’re Baptist,” or “Oh, you’re Church of Christ,” or “Oh, you’re Catholic,” instead of “Oh, you’re Christian.”
The church needs more unity, but we need to have this unity without complete conformity–we need a balance. There are some things that should be changed to make the church as a whole to be more biblical, but we need to do so, without making one domination more dominant than the other.
There are some things in the Bible that are set in stone, such as Jesus is Lord, he is the way, the truth, and the life, but there are other things that the Bible is vague about, which allows for variety and freedom in worship. It is okay to have variety in unity, for the Apostle Paul himself wrote:
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. I Corinthians 12:12-26
Church, we need to stop fighting over the pettiest of things. We need more unity. I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6.
In humility, we need to become more one. Instead of focusing on the differences, we need to focus what we have in common, Jesus. Yes, there will be disagreement (as there is in any family), for there is no one who believes exactly like you, even in your own congregation. We will not be able to agree on everything, and there should be debate over the Bible, we need that too, so that we can become more and more biblical. But can we not debate without more dividing? without more segregation? Additionally, we need to debate in humility and love, instead of the attitude, “I’m right, you’re wrong, let me convert you to my point of view.”
Church, we need unity, while also having diversity. For the world itself is trying create unity, but by conformity and extreme tolerance, “Everyone don’t judge!” but we are not the world. Let us create unity, without utterly destroying diversity. Let us see that we are all roses, instead of being a white or a red rose.
Lord, teach Your children to stop the fighting,
Start uniting, all as one.
Let’s get together, loving forever,
Sanctuary for You.
Inspired from a lecture by Dr. Diles.