I couldn’t help but wonder: If Jesus addressed the state of the church, would he find the people of faith as divided as our politicians?
The lack of unity seems to be the only thing our government representatives can agree upon. I feel the same about those of us who are called to represent Christ to America. Is it really possible for us to be “one nation” under God if we can’t even be “one church” under God?
The only unifying force powerful enough to control human divisions is God. Division doesn’t exist because of our leaders. Those people just represent their followers. Division exists because we are not willing to be a nation, or a church, “under God.”
Division is normal
It didn’t take long for God’s people to divide. Think about Cain and Abel, Abraham and Lot, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, Judas and the other apostles, or Paul and Barnabus. Truthfully, division is the norm. Unity is rare, even in Scripture.
Paul helped the Christians in Corinth form a church. A few years later, he wrote a lengthy letter because representatives from that young church had come to see him in Ephesus, concerned about the divisions developing in their young congregation.
In the first chapter he wrote, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).
Unity is rare, and of high value
Paul appealed to the Christians in Corinth to desire unity, then he told them how to find it. They would need to have the “same mind” and the “same judgment.”
Picture the president standing in front of the American culture and saying, “I expect all Americans to have a unanimous vote this election season.” That is exactly how these Corinthians would have viewed Paul’s statement.
If unity has always been impossible, why did Paul make an appeal for it?
Paul knew that unity was possible, and he knew how to achieve it. He told the Corinthians, “‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).
Unity is rare, but possible. Division is normal, and what the average person should expect. But, Christians aren’t supposed to be average. We have “the mind of Christ.”
We just need to think with it.
The state of the church
- The Methodist denomination is expected to split in half this May over LGBT issues.
- The Catholic church in America is roughly 47 percent Democrat and 46 percent Republican. They disagree on church issues such as abortion, birth control, and global warming.
- The Baptists are the largest denomination in America. There are Southern Baptists, American Baptists, Independent Baptists, and, for the sake of efficiency, let’s just say “many more” Baptists, who are just as divided as the other major denominations over political and moral issues.
- Billy Graham said, “Eleven o’clock Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America.” Martin Luther King Jr. often quoted his friend, Dr. Graham. Sadly, the quote still applies to most churches today.
If Paul were delivering a State of the Church speech, I believe he would begin his message by saying, “I appeal to all Christians to be undivided, because you can be united under God through the mind of Christ.”
If you are like me, you would agree with Paul’s goal—but the next thought would be “impossible.”
All things are possible with God
God told Jeremiah, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27).
The angel told Abram, “Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son” (Genesis 18:14).
Jesus told his disciples, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
The point of this blog today is to ask: Have we forgotten that the impossible is possible with God?
One nation, under God
Have you stopped hoping for a better “state of the union?”
Are we hoping our side will win, or are we hoping our country will be unified?
Have we lowered our standards to what we hope to achieve?
And, do we hold the same standards for our churches that we do for our nation?
If so, we are not thinking with the mind of Christ. If we don’t believe unity is possible, it won’t be.
If my people . . .
God told King Solomon, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). I often teach the key to that verse is the first three words: “if my people.”
Christians can change the world. Nothing is impossible—with God.
The key is to stop trying to change other people’s minds and do what is necessary to change our own thoughts. We need to stop thinking like the world.
Christians have the mind of Christ. Let’s use it.
If you . . .
How will Jesus change your thinking today?
The state of our lives, the state of our union, and the state of our churches will begin to change with his great thoughts. He just needs his people to think with them. Jesus needs you to think like him.
Our first thought needs to be: Do I believe unity is possible?
The second might be to pray: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”
Nothing is impossible with God.