The prayer request was simple enough. We were to pray for unity between denominations of churches. Unity of believers is certainly the Father’s will, so I had no problem with that part of the request. Beyond that, it got pretty murky.
As long as there are denominations (and non-denominations), there will be division. They are set up to separate one group of believers from another, based on beliefs that are different from other groups. Christians are quick to identify themselves by their denomination (or non), often more readily than Christian. (See I.D. Please, for more.) That was the first of my struggles.
The second came with a suffix. That’s right. The -es suffix added to the word church to make it plural caught my attention in a negative way. While the great majority of Christians readily give lip service to the idea of there being only one church in Christ, that’s really as deep as it goes. Despite what we say, we believe a group meeting in a specific building is one church, and another group meeting in another building is a different church. So, even in a very small town, we have multiple churches. And we hope all the churches will get along, despite how “wrong” some of their beliefs are.
How do we ever expect there to be unity of the Spirit when we believe divisively – no matter what we speak out of our mouths?
Ephesians 4:3-6 NIV 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Will it ever change? Can it change? As long as we still have flesh on, the struggle will exist as we lean on our own understanding, or that of our parents, grandparents, those in pulpits, friends, et al. Yet, we are promised transformation as we renew our minds, focusing on Jesus Christ. It is then we will be in agreement with God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will – a will that isn’t fragmented, divided, confused, or pulling against itself. This is when we will know what it is to be His church – no -es added!
By the way, despite my struggles with the way it was written, I did pray – just not quite as requested. Instead, I prayed for my brothers and sisters to know and experience Jesus Christ and His love beyond anything they could ever ask, hope, think, or imagine. In this we find the unity of the Spirit. In this is the church of Jesus Christ.