I apologize for the gap between posts. It’s been a busy time at work, and I have six children as well.Â
Â I started the last blog by talking about the importance of unity. You should look at it and make sure you agree. The road to unity is not anÂ easy one. Unless you think unity is crucial, you will not make the effort.
In theÂ last blog I recommended not calling yourself by divisive names. Today I want to talk about fellowship with other Christians.
There will never be unity unless we are able to fellowship with people whose doctrine we don’t agree with.
Let me say that again: there will never be unity unless we are able to fellowship with people whose doctrine we don’t agree with.
Pentecostals and Non-Pentecostals:Â A Story
When I was first told this, I was in an Assembly of God church. A brother said to me, “We can’t keep seeing Baptists as half-Christians. They’re our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
The Assembly of God is a Pentecostal denomination. They believe the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a second experience, accompanied by the evidence of speaking in tongues, that all Christians should experience. Baptists don’t believe this.
Baptists have various ways of viewing the Pentecostal phenomenon of speaking in tongues. Most Pentecostals see Baptists (and other non-tongues-speakers) as second-class Christians. They’re saved, but they don’t have the power of the Holy Spirit.
I read a book once where a Charismatic–they’re also tongues-speakers–said that the faith is like aÂ steakÂ that most Christians keep in the freezer. Charismatics have it in the frying pan.
It doesn’t matter which side of the charismatic issue you’re on. You’re not going to get everyone to agree with you; at least not today. Can there be unity without agreement on these things?
How Much is Christian Unity Worth?
Do you believe that those Charismatics are Christians? If you’re a Charismatic, do you believe those Baptists are Christians?
If so, then they’re your family. They’re your brothers and sisters.
Jesus expects you to lay your life down for them. Our Father believes all of them–all that are really Christian–are his children, and he has told you in the Scriptures to be one heart, one mind, intent on on purpose, and to strive together with them for the faith of the Gospel.
Church Unity vs. Christian Unity
Lots of Christians are willing to devote themselves to unity in their own church. But are we willing to devote ourselves to unity among Christians in general?
Remember, Jesus said that the unity of his disciples would prove to the world that the Father sent him. He requested “perfect unity,” the unity he has with the Father, as proof of who he was.
Are we really giving him that while a Presbyterian church and Baptist church sit on corners of the same intersection?
Call it unity all you want. You’re notÂ fooling God; you’re not fooling the world; you’re not fooling me; and I hope you’re not fooling yourself.
Doctrine divides the Presbyterian and Baptist churches.
They both admit the other is Christian, but they don’t fellowship. They mind their own business. They live and let live.
That is tolerance, not unity.
It’s certainly not the perfect unity of the Father and Son and Jesus prayed for.
Can We Really Do Anything?
What I’m requesting of you will get harder and harder as the days go by, but you can start with this simple thing. I have seen God bless it with godly Christians over and over.
Personally become blind to denominations!
Last time I asked you to refuse to call yourself by a denomination. Now I’m asking you to ignore them as distinctions between Christians.
For right now you may have to attend a denominational church. We are working towards the day when you won’t. I believe that day can come. Remember, it was Jesus who prayed for it.
Find a different church’s prayer meeting to attend. Find a local Bible study that’s interdenominational or of another denomination. If you move to a new town, attend a new denomination’s church!
That’s asking a lot, I know.
We are ignoring the request of Jesus Christ–supposedly our Master and Lord–that we be perfectly united in one mind and one heart (re: Php. 2:2). It’s asking a lot of him to put up with centuries of our lack of concern about something that was on the forefront of his mind as he went to his death forÂ our sins.
Someone has to do something.
This is the easy stuff. Are you that someone?