Have you ever wondered what God must think when He looks down on the church on earth? It’s fractured, it’s divided, it’s certainly not united, and it’s a disgrace. There are denominations, splinter groups, “Southern” this, “First” that, “Church of this” and “Church of that.” But, where is the unity? Each denomination, splinter group, and “Church of this or that” believes they have the truth: the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Each one claims to be led by the Holy Spirit and to have a firm hold on the doctrine of God; but it’s the differences that make a difference. Where’s the unity?
There was a “Protestant Movement”, a “Holiness Movement,” a “Pentecostal Movement,” and on and on. There have been so many “movements” in the history of the church that it’s surprising there is anything left of what it began with.
Have those “movements” really brought the church to a better place? Each one emphasized what was thought to be a vital and important aspect of our faith and worship; and then, the good that was wrought was overwhelmed by the “movement” and lost in translation.
IN what might have been sincere efforts to bring God’s people closer to Him, extremes crept in. Honest beliefs became extreme beliefs; and extreme beliefs brought extreme practices. And with each extreme belief, the divisions grew. God’s church became – and has become – a “holy” ground for infighting over “holy” beliefs.
Unity has given way to “right or fight,” to “make it or break it,” to “I’m right and you’re wrong,” to name calling and mud-slinging. The splinters have become “beams in their eyes;” and it seems that no one sees clearly anymore to first take the splinter out of their own eye. It’s much easier to “behold the mote in your brother’s eye.”
However, I firmly believe that, before it’s all over, there will be a unity of the faith. It seems that man cannot bring it about. We’re too busy fighting for what we “know is right.” But, a unity of faith will come to the church on earth.
The apostle Paul said of Jesus, “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come to the unity of the faith…” (Eph 4:11-13).
How will it happen?
Unity among those who claim to know God, those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, those who claim to be “blood washed” and “sanctified” will only come by a “movement” of God himself. No man can bring it about. No “Unity Movement” can bring it about. No “Ecumenical Movement” can bring it about. Only God can accomplish unity for His church.
The unity of faith we must have to be the church that Jesus will take to himself; “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:27) will only come about in the fire of tribulation. It is only through suffering – and suffering together – that we will be the kind of friend Jesus was: the kind of friend that will lay down his life for his brother or sister in the faith.
It is only through the tribulation that lies ahead, “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor shall ever be” (Matt 24:21) that the fire will be hot enough to melt off the “dross” from the gold. And, as each layer of “dross,” the waste matter, is skimmed off, the gold is slowly purified. It becomes “holy and without blemish.”
As those of us who are “alive and remain” live out our days on earth through the Time of Tribulation that is coming, God will work a work in each of us. He will no longer have individuals working in different directions for different purposes; he will have unity in the Body of Christ. We will become One in Jesus – as Jesus is One in the Father.
We will not be called on the compromise our beliefs; or to compromise on the doctrine of the Bible. As each day of the tribulation brings new experiences – new trials and new testing – we will be brought to a place of acknowledging God’s true doctrine; to a place of seeing the “beam in our own eye;” to a place of seeing and acknowledging where we were right – and where we were wrong.
Through the fire, we will come in a unity of faith: to a place of a true “knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13).