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The Perfect Church

          I had a dream one night many years ago. It was about harmony in the church. Since God revealed that to me it seems to be the devils button to push to upset me. You know what I’m talking about, right? We all have an issue that gets us stirred up and the enemy knows it. He hits us there every chance that he can. Well, my button is disharmony in the Body of Christ.

          I drive around the state we live in and see all types of Christian churches and it makes me wonder how the world perceives us. Do they think we are all against each other and laugh? Are they puzzled as to which church is the real church? Does it make them seek God? Many years ago I perceived the denomination that I grew up in as the only church. I knew that there were others but always felt like we were the ones who had it all correct. As I matured I realized that other groups had viewed the Bible differently and that there were issues that my denomination never touched on. We were focused on evangelism and bringing people to Christ. I thought it was the only thing important because that was the focus on our denomination.

But after years of sermons on how everyone needs Jesus I was hungry for more. I suffered because there was not enough personal discipleship and training on how to “walk the walk”. All we heard about was that people were fallen because of Adam and Jesus made a way for us to be redeemed. It is all truth, of course, but an incomplete story. No one talked about how to live righteously, how to deal with living in a lost world that rejects Christ, and how to handle differences among ourselves inside the church.

As always, we need to go to the Word and find out about this topic. Divisions are not a new thing in the Body of Christ. They occurred in the early church as well as today. Paul wrote two letters to the church in Corinth that are included in our Bible. The first letter deals with problems that this church had. In the very first chapter, immediately after Paul’s opening greetings and formalities his first issue is regarding divisions in the church. Look at 1st Corinthians chapter 1. The first nine verses all pertain to who was writing and who it was written to. In verse ten he begins this entire letter with a rebuke on divisions in the church there. Remember that at the time that this was written there were no denominations. The only church differences were their locations. The twelve apostles went out in one mind and accord and started churches wherever the Spirit sent them. It was not a Methodist Church and Baptist, nor was it a Peterian Church and a Paularian. But rather these were all Christian Churches with solid teachings based on geography.

Paul told the Church at Corinth that they should be of the same mind and the same judgment. Stop and think about that for just a moment. Paul had other issues with this church. If you talk to someone about several issues you start with the most important one. That way you make sure it gets said. By bringing this up first Paul showed that it was seriously on his mind. It is always serious when there are divisions in the church of Jesus Christ. This report got back to Paul from members of the house of Chloe. Ponder that also. When there are problems in the church it gets around, doesn’t it.

About ten years ago, Angie and I were attending a small church. There were some problems going on when we first started attending but we decided that since no church was perfect we would stick it out. After a few months it became apparent that it had gotten more serious and we decided to stop going for a while to see if things would settle down. We found out later that the church went through a terrible split that included litigation and the local television station did a live broadcast on it. At that time we had broadcast television and watched as people we had known were displayed to the world. We all cried at the disgrace that the Body of Christ had. It turns out that the pastor later proved himself to be unfit for the pulpit and the people that he separated to himself also left his side. But by that time the damage was done, though.

I’m sure if I asked for examples of church problems in modern times you would all flood me with emails. We’ve all known of church problems. Divisions can never be good. We can’t interpret the Bible twenty different ways and all think we have it right. We must find harmony in the church today. If you didn’t already know this, let me enlighten you. There is a spiritual war going on and the enemy is in unified in his cause. We will lose ground if we don’t find the common thread of Christianity that unites all true Christians.

In the next few verses Paul gives illustrations of some problems with people who had put their faith in the name of the one that brought them into the fold. I suppose in modern times we could brag that we were Baptist or Methodist and look just as foolish. Paul pointed out that there is only one Jesus and that we were all baptized in that Name. We like to take pride in our denominations, sometimes. I have been educated over and over about many people’s denominational history. One denomination here in the South even has a sign saying “established 33A.D”. Maybe they are implying that theirs is the only true church and that it has existed since Jesus ascension! If you search back, no denomination goes all the way back to Jesus’ time.

If you study the history of the Church you see many factions and changes in it. There were many years when the true believers in Jesus were in hiding for fear of persecution. There was a large religious group claiming to be the Church. But they were merely the persecutors. The Remnant survived and Christ’s Church still lives today.

Let’s examine another passage in 1st Corinthians. In chapter eleven and verse nineteen Paul makes a statement that some interpret to mean that God approves of factions. Since he began this letter condemning the divisions and scolding them it wouldn’t make sense for him to say that these are sanctioned by God. What I believe Paul is saying is that God uses these to test out or prove the true believers. We know that all things work together for good to those who love God and are the called, right? Some members of denominations are simply members of an organization. They believe that they will get to heaven because they are members in a church. Others are members of the Body of Christ.

I believe that every denomination began by focusing on one great truth that God had given and instead of learning more and progressing to perfection they stopped growing. It’s like the story of the blind men who described an elephant. Each of us has grasped a different part and we are sure that this is what God is like. Others see a different aspect and because they grasp it they feel that they have God figured out. He is a big God! I dare say that no denomination has Him figured out.

Look at some other passages that talk about harmony. In chapter twelve of this book Paul talks about spiritual gifts. He mentions that God gives these as He chooses and not as we want (v 11). I believe that God does not give all of these to any one person because that man would become so prideful. I honestly have had each of these at work in my life at one time or another, but never all of them at the same time. You can get pretty prideful if you have the gift of healing for very long. Just look at some of the faith healers. They may start out with a legitimate miracle from God. The next thing you know, they have crowds following them.

I love the entire remainder of this chapter. Paul compares each of us to actual members of a body. Some are hands and some are feet. Some are ears and some are noses. None of us have it all together. We need each other, friend! Look at verses twenty four through twenty seven. Paul says that the less honorable parts of the body are given special treatment than the obvious parts. You may feel that you are insignificant in the church. You might even be in a denomination that puts much emphasis on someone’s rank and pecking order in the church. God gives you more honor if you are the seemingly less honorable person in the church. If you are the janitor or keep the nursery you have higher honor than the Bishop or Pastor to God (v24).

Just this past week, our family devotion looked at a passage where David was chosen by God and anointed king over Israel. God told Samuel that man looked on the outward appearance but God saw the heart (1 Sam 16:7). God wants us all to remember that we need each other. There will never be two people who agree one hundred percent. If they do, one of them isn’t thinking. But we should remember that God wants His church unified. He wants us as one. His desire is for a church without spot or wrinkle (Eph 5:27).  A perfect church should be our goal.

I’m not speaking of accepting sin today. Paul gives warning of that problem in 1st Corinthians, also. As an example of what I am talking about I have heard quarrels over whether or not a person should be sprinkled or dunked when they are baptized! I think we can surely discuss more important topics. If you ever want to see how God views the power of unity study Genesis chapter 11. God said that because these men were unified, nothing would be impossible for them.

Satan divides people in the church to keep us from being victorious. Have you brought harmony or dissension to the church? Would God commend your actions or condemn them? We must join together to bring the Church into perfection. Instead of asking what we can “allow” in the church we should be asking what we can give up for God. He will come back for a spotless bride. Are you ready?

 

Prayer-Father God-I ask You today to show us actions that have not brought unity to Your Church. Let us see how we have argued over petty matters and personal interpretations. May we be united in You and each other. When the world sees us may they see the beautiful bride that You are calling for Your Son, Jesus.

In Jesus’ Name I pray-amen

paul

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Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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2 Responses to "The Perfect Church"

  1. Virginia says:

    I love reading and re-reading 1st Corinth

  2. Sue says:

    That is totally an awesome message and I know it’s from God!! Praise God you are speaking it so that others may hear!! 🙂 Have a blessed day with Jesus! In Him, Sue

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