Christianity ‚Äì Can You See The Elephant?
Have you ever attended a meeting in which an issue desperately needed to be discussed? But, for some reason, the cause of greatest consternation and turbulence was taboo. All of the participants sit at the table avoiding the one issue that weighs most heavily on their hearts. This ‚Äúelephant in the room‚Äù is an obvious distraction, but no one will acknowledge its existence.
Does such an issue exist for the Church? There are many challenges for the Church today, but there is one that seems most troublesome to me. The issue is the unity of the Body of Christ. As I have talked to my brothers and sisters about the divisions that exist, they seem quite satisfied that this is the way God intended for things to be. Despite this common view, the Scriptures teach quite clearly that unity is not an option for the family of faith. 1 Corinthians 1:10 states, ‚ÄúI appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.‚Äù This teaching does not seem ambiguous in the least. Yet, when I ask cherished Christian friends if the various denominations are within God‚Äôs plan for His church, they often respond, ‚ÄúYes. We are separate because we do not agree with others in: Scriptural interpretation, Church polity, the sacraments/ordinances, administration of missions, etc.‚Äù There seems to be a certain satisfaction at ecclesial segregation. But the words, let there be ‚Äúno divisions among you,‚Äù come rushing back condemning our smugness at what is an obvious departure from God‚Äôs intent.
Ephesians 4:4-6 contains seven statements concerning the unity of the Church. Paul writes that, ‚ÄúThere is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.‚Äù Do these non-negotiable statements of fact compel us to seek unity with our brothers and sisters in the faith?
Last week the choirs from Anchor Baptist Church and Tates Creek Presbyterian Church joined forces to sing at the memorial service for a young marine who heroically lost his life defending the country he loved. The singers had thirty minutes to work together in preparation for the service. Given this common purpose around which to agree, those whose understanding of baptism and predestination differ so dramatically were able to overcome divergent views. Their voices blended into a symphony of sound that honored the Lord and showed us all what the Church could look and sound like.
Ephesians 4:1 begins with Paul begging believers to, ‚Äúlead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.‚Äù Last Saturday this truth was lived by two choirs who became one. What is the cause that might unite the family of faith now so divided? Jesus shares the transcendent cause for unity in His "High Priestly Prayer." John 17:20 and following record Jesus as saying, "I pray...for those who believe in me...that they may all be one; even 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."
Is this a real concern? Can you see the elephant?