Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down… Psalm 133:1-2, KJV
If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. Mark 3:25 NIV
I have attended many churches throughout my life. I attended two Catholic churches with my parents. I attended a small Pentecostal church with my husband and his family. My husband and I attended a Methodist church while in college. We were part of an Evangelical Word of Faith church for 14 years. Three years ago we moved to another church at the Lord’s direction and with our previous pastors’ blessings. It’s been an amazing journey. At each church I saw a unique facet of our amazing and multi-faceted God. Each church added another brushstroke to the canvas that holds the masterpiece God is painting… me. At each church I grew in my relationship with God. I wouldn’t trade a moment of it.
I entitled this post, the elephant in the room, because recently I have encountered something that is obvious to so many, yet unspoken. Ignored, but still there. I think it’s time we talk about it.
Since moving from my previous church to my current church, I have noticed something that I find very disturbing. When I speak to friends from my previous church, there is tension. There is awkwardness. There is this subtle undercurrent of competition regarding the two churches. I love everyone regardless of which church we go to. No matter how many church moves we’ve made, I still consider the people in each church family and friends. Each move we made was at God’s direction and I would not ask anyone to leave one church to come to another. That is between them and God.
I have invited friends to special events at our new church, not for the purpose of getting them to change churches, but because I love my friends and feel that they will be blessed and grow from the experience. They are always free to simply say, ‘no’. Yet, the response is often tension and then an account of what God is doing in their church.
I also come in contact with people that also attended and left my previous church. Some of them had an experience that left them hurt. When I talk to them about friends that are still there, once again the tension begins to build. I encourage those friends to let God heal their hearts of those hurts.
Can I just say that my church affiliation is not my identity. I didn’t feel that when I left one church to go to another that I was in my heart leaving the people of each church. My identity is not in the name on the building I choose to worship in. My identity is in being a part of the Body of Christ. When I was at the Catholic churches I was a part of the Body of Christ. When I was at the Pentecostal church, the Methodist church, the Word of Faith church I was still a part of the same body, the Body of Christ. Since coming to this new church, guess what I am still a part of the same Body that I became a part of when I gave my heart to Jesus 38 years ago, while a member of a Catholic church. I am still connected to the believers at each of these churches.
When we allow ourselves to be separated based on denomination, based on church affiliation, understand that we are not just allowing ourselves to be divided from another church body. We are allowing ourselves to be divided from a part of Christ’s Body.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ… But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 1 Corinthians 12:12, 18-21
Whether we realize it or not, we need each other. The enemy would love to divide us. He knows a house divided cannot stand. He would love to divide Christ’s body. Let’s each examine our hearts and refuse to be divided from one another. This post is not just for those who attend my previous church, but also to any who have not attended my previous churches yet feel free to say unkind things about them or about any church or denomination for that matter. We can disagree, but we don’t have to be divided from one another in our hearts.
Jesus Himself said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” I think it’s time we stop judging, rejecting and condemning one another and start loving one another. A lost, hurt and dying world is watching.
And I end this by praying for myself, “Lord, search me.”