Lesson 3 - A Unified People

Philippians 1:27-28
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 in no way alarmed by your opponents which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.

One of the most often used reasons that people do not attend church services is they are confused by the vast number of groups who all teach, believe and worship in different ways.  I heard a man say one time "there are as many churches in this town as there are different bars."  His statement was true.  He, like so many others, was absolutely confounded as to why there is such a lack of unity among people who all claim to worship the same God using His Word as our guide.  In an effort to be open and accepting the vast majority of Christians have adopted the "I'm ok, you're ok" motto.  While this seems to create peace, this peace is only found on the surface for behind this statement a torrent of confusion is sweeping the lost away.

Challenging Question
Our culture has taught us not to question another person's religious beliefs because this is somehow anti-American.  The fact remains, however, there is great diversity in Christendom today.  Multiple denominations and numerous "independent" churches exist within close proximity to one another.  This situation presents a question that must be asked and answered; 1) Is this diversity how God would wants Christianity to be?  In this lesson we will attempt to answer this question.

Our attitude should be to always surrender ourselves completely to the will of God.  Since our only window into the will and character of God is through His Word this is where we must seek the answers to our questions; Is diversity how God would want Christianity to be can only be answered by looking into this Word and drawing out what His will is.  Once we make the mental commitment to use God's Word to answer this question we are ready to take action and find the answer.

1 Corinthians 1:10
Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Notice Paul's emphatic language in the next verse as he pleads by the highest authority possible, the name of the Lord, with members of the church to; 1) agree, 2) have no divisions among us, 3) share the same Christian mind, 4) have the same Christian judgment.  For the sake of emphasis let's reverse these thoughts and see how outlandish it would be:
Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all disagree and that there be many divisions among you, but that you be made incomplete different minds and in the different judgments.  --This sounds like a recipe for confusion to me!

Avoid false "wisdom" -
Over the years many people have asked why there are so many different churches all claiming to be of the same God.  In the verse below God reveals something very compelling.  He says the ability to remain humble and control our own opinions will allow single-mindedness.  In today's Christian world we see a great many people, perhaps even in our own brotherhood, which lost their humility and became so "wise" they became church leaders instead of followers of God.  We must ensure we humbly apply God's will over our own and the natural result of this is unity.

Romans 12:16
Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.

Focus on the "oneness" found throughout scripture.  I religious world has accepted division as "normal."  Since the scriptures demand otherwise we must set a course of action that will place us in direct opposition with the carnal world as well as the religious world.  This opposition will manifest itself in many ways but we must remain firm in working toward a universal unified body of believers.

Ephesians 4:4-6
There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

Interpret the Word with a pure heart-
Some many say that the diversity is just simply a product of people interpreting the Bible differently.  Peter addresses that very issue and emphasizes the point by telling us to know this principle first.

2 Peter 1:20-21
But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Share the Lord's Prayer -
John chapter 17 is one of the most beautiful, heartfelt and revealing passages in the entire Bible.  Here Jesus, about to be crucified and knowing He will be separated from them, is pleading with His Father on behalf of His followers.   You might say this prayer was His dying request.  Let's look at just a few verses from this passage (but please read it in its entirety as well):

John 17:11
I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.

In this verse Jesus is praying for His apostles that the Father gave Him.  He did not pray that they would have great wealth, a long life or a happy existence.  Instead, above all else, He prayed for their unity.  He continues His prayer for us as well.  Again His request to the Father was not unity.

John 17:20-23
I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 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 sent Me.  22 The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

Jesus expands His thoughts in prayer to include all who will believe in Him in the future.  Notice how He pleads over and over for oneness and unity.  Count the number of times He says "one."

Our question has been thoroughly answered by God's Word and even our own experiences provide clarity for those answers:

Is diversity how God would want Christianity to be?  The answer is a resounding "no."  The scriptures plead, beg and demand that the Christian faith be one of unity and that true unity can only be achieved by a humble application of God's will in our lives.  If the diversity we see today is not the will of God, then whose device is it?  Satan is reaping the reward of millions of souls struggling to find their way while confusion reigns.

Diversity harmful to the cause of Christ!  The lost are screaming to us in a voice of unity that we should envy!  "Harmful!"  We must clearly teach we are laboring toward a time when all Christendom is united and speaks the same thing.  God's pure and simple Word.  It must not be our desire to defeat, but to unite and please and praise the Lord with one unified voice.  Otherwise we leave the world to the confusion authored by Satan.