Unfortunately, from time to time, we hear of churches splitting. One group is ticked off by what another group has done, the older folks like hymns while the younger folks like praise choruses, or the pastor makes a decision that sends a faction into a tizzy. This shameful phenomenon is nothing new; we’ve been separating almost as long as we’ve been the Church. According to an internet article entitled “Christian Denominations: The History and Evolution of Christian Denominations and Faith Groups,” author Mary Fairchild says:
- There are numerous ways to dissect the many Christian faith groups. They can be separated into fundamentalist or conservative, mainline and liberal groups. They can be characterized by theological belief systems such as Calvinism and Arminianism. And lastly… Christians can be categorized into a vast number of denominations.
Yes, the Eastern Orthodox folks broke away from the Roman Catholic Church. Then the Protestant Reformation came along and the Lutherans started. The Methodists separated from them and the Baptists separated from them and on and on it goes. I’m sure the people who orchestrated each split felt they had sound reasons to do so, but any way you cut it (no pun intended), the final outcome was division.
Just before Jesus went to the Cross, He prayed for us. One of the key points He made to the Father was about unity. He prayed:
- “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are… I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” John 17:11, 20-23 (NKJ, emphasis added).
Look at that: five times Jesus emphasized His desire for our unity with one another and with Him and His Father. This is important stuff.
I’ve seen the beginnings of what unity looks like here on earth. Instead of splitting, my church merged with another church. Folks from the two congregations are getting to know one another and we’re looking forward to growing together as believers and to working together as a family in the Lord’s vineyard. I consider this to be one small example of what Heaven’s going to be like. John saw it in the Revelation:
- “…the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb… And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation…” Revelation 5:8-9 (NKJ).
Do you see that? Jesus has redeemed folks “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” There will be no denominational flag-waving marches in Glory. Jesus’ blood unites all believers. We might as well get used to it down here because we’ll all be in Heaven together – forever.
©2015 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.
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