Perhaps, the reason for so much division in the Church is we are trying to make God into our own image.
Think about this next statement carefully and let it sink in: if everyone in the Body of Christ was in complete agreement with God, there would be no division whatsoever!
There is one true Doctrine of Christ; but, there are also many doctrines of men and demons. As it stands, too many are more concerned about their personal image of God than being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. They rather hang onto their pet doctrines as they see them, instead of knowing the Word of God the way the Lord desires them to know it. Because we are more concerned about being right, we tend to argue over Scripture to prove our point. It divides us, and reveals another fact: we are not walking in love. Love holds us together; not our agreeing on doctrine; although, it may lead to agreement. Love maintains relationships in spite of differences of opinion.
We are to be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit (see Ephesians 4:1-6), which means we must agree with Holy Spirit to be one Body. Sometimes, He will lead us to do things we don’t like. Obedience requires love, and love will deny the self, pick up the cross and follow Jesus (see Matthew 16:24-25). Godly obedience believes God and seeks to conform to His desires out of love. It full heartedly agrees with Him. This leads to another point: true doctrine conforms to the way God sees things. If we were more concerned about His point of view, we would be able to discuss Scripture with the true aim of finding truth as God sees it. At the same time, allowing Him to reveal Himself as He really is, instead of the way we want to see Him. His Word will come more alive to all of us if we approach it with a sincere and honest heart that is truly passionate about Him. There has to be a willingness to relinquish control of doctrine, and allow Holy Spirit to reveal the true doctrine of God. In turn, it will change the way we think, and conform our thought life to the way Jesus thinks. That is repentance, and with repentance comes agreement with Him.
Ephesians 4:1-6Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
Affirmation is powerful. It’s something that helps shape destiny, good or bad. Without it, people don’t fare so well in life. When they come to receive the affirmation of God our Father through Jesus Christ, their life changes for the better. Without it, they’re limited in their capacity to live life to the fullest extent God desires for them. The devil knows it full well, and seeks to attack our identity in Jesus Christ by twisting the concept of love and affirmation. He employs the same method on us, as he did with Jesus in the wilderness when tried to tempt Him: “If you be the Son of God . . .” If he can get us to question our relationship with God, he will try to move us into the next phase of his plan: “If you’re a Christian, prove it!” This little nudge can move a believer from resting in the relationship to seeking man’s approval. We are called to love others as ourselves; not seek to be loved by them. If we are tricked into seeking man’s affirmation, we will lose sight of loving others well and become self-centered.
Jesus warned about seeking man’s praise. Matthew 6:1Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
One aspect of seeking man’s affirmation is that it actually moves one from faith and into fear.
Faith works by love (see Galatians 5:6), and without love you cannot truly walk by faith. If you become concerned about whether someone respects, loves or likes you, you may become fearful of rejection. We are designed for relationship with others, and to affirm our love toward them as well. However, if we seek affirmation, our motivation for doing things just changed. Instead of doing things for others out of love, we may actually do things to earn their love. If you do things to prove you’re righteous, you step away from righteousness and walk headlong into self-righteousness. Our righteousness is the result of our position in Jesus Christ, and our works of righteousness are the result of the work within us. Ephesians 2:10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Have you ever had a conversation in which others find out you’re a disciple of Jesus, and suddenly it changes. They talk about their good works, and how kind they are to others? They take on an air of piousness. For some reason, it’s as if they have a need to convince you that they’re good. Have you ever found yourself doing that very thing? If you’re not secure in your relationship with God, you may find yourself tempted to prove that you are His by what you say or do. “If you’re a Christian, prove it!” Suddenly, you may find yourself doing things for show, instead of doing them as onto the Lord. Big difference!
There are three areas in which the enemy likes to tempt people: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life (see Genesis 3:1-7; 1 John 2:15-17). That last one is a serious snare. Affirmation from man can really stroke the ego. The enemy knows that one well too. “You are so good!”
That sounds very affirming, but it can lead to pride which ushers one to performance for applause.
Instead of listening to Jesus and obeying His voice, you may find yourself seeking the voices of man’s praise. You may find man’s “Well done good and faithful slave” substituted for “Well done good and faithful servant.” That’s a move from being well pleasing to God to being a people-pleaser. It’s a form of bondage that latches onto either neediness or pride. It’s an easy place to be manipulated. Master manipulators are well aware of this. Galatians 1:10For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. If you want to go about doing good as Jesus did, you simply need to purpose to love people well. If you seek their love, you will never be Jesus to them.
Being independent is not a biblical way of life. While it is true that we think and do things independent from others, our lifestyles are not designed for self-reliance. No one’s purpose can fully be realized by playing the Lone Ranger. We need each other; otherwise, God would have made us hermits. The reason some of you are having difficulty seeing your God-given vision come to pass is that you’re making it about yourself and what you can do. Developing your own plan of attack is not faith. Doing something you think is good to do will never yield the results found in true faith. Faith is not doing something, then expecting God’s stamp of approval. We know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Faith does what is heard, and it believes the unseen results before they manifest. There may be numerous occasions when you must “go it alone;” of course, never without God. Nonetheless, our life of faith is interactive. Can one truly be part of the Body of Christ without being connected to it? Cut off one of your arms, and see how long it will live detached from the rest of your body. Even life itself reveals our need for each other. No one would live past infancy without someone else’s care. We need society to function. Name one person who doesn’t rely on people. “Me!” So, you’re saying you produced the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the car you drive and so on? If you bought any of these things, you didn’t produce it; someone else did. Even if you planted your own food, where did you get the seed? If you made your clothes, where did you get the material? Granted, there may be some rare exception, but as a whole, we need each other to survive.
Name one person in Scripture, whose vision or dream did not require others to succeed.
Even Jesus depended on Mary, or had disciples to minister alongside Him. God can do as He pleases without anyone else, but that’s one of the reasons He is God and we are not! Jesus could have just showed up without Mary’s help, but instead, He humbled Himself, which means we must humble ourselves as well (see Philippians 2:3-11). Perhaps, one of the reasons God designed us to do life together is that independence can lead to pride and arrogance. Some are not being promoted to their positions of promise because they have not yet humbled themselves. James 4:10Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
Experiences can create strongholds. For example, someone may have had a bad experience in a church, and was wounded. The result: “I want nothing to do with the Church. From now on, it’s just God and me!” This may be one reason some want to go it alone in terms of fulfilling their purpose. The truth of the matter is we must remain vulnerable to see things to the end. Jesus went to the Cross knowing many would reject Him. He still died for them. He made it about our Father and us. Hebrews 12:2Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Not everyone rejected Him, nor will everyone in the Body of Christ set out to hurt you. Forgive and move on! Jesus said it best, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
Not only do you need the Body, the Body needs you! It would be incomplete without you. There are others whom the Lord has placed next to you. That means they need you too. No one else can do for them what you can, and vice versa. There are people with whom God wants you to connect. If you push them away, you will delay your true destiny!
1 Corinthians 12:14-26For the Body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the Body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the Body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the Body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
Jesus said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). That means there is no other way by which one may be saved. It is only through Jesus Christ. He, Himself said it! Often the question is asked, “What about those who never so much as heard of Jesus, are they condemned to hell even though they never heard the Gospel?” Perhaps, you posed this very question yourself. Here is a question that may lead to the answer: is God unequal? Does He pick some while rejecting others by not giving everyone the opportunity to hear? Of course not! “Well, what about those in the middle of the jungles of Africa, who never so much as met a missionary? How are they going to get saved?” Perhaps, there’s a notion that needs to change along with the question, because it totally misses the heart of God. Perhaps the question should be, “why wouldn’t God send a missionary there?
God is very intentional about the words He uses. In our opening verse, Jesus said, “I am the Way,” making it clear there’s only One, but notice the next part of the declaration: “I am the Truth.” Truth is a key to salvation. Only those who desire the truth, find it. Only those who desire the true God of the Bible, find Him. A person who prefers to believe a lie, will not believe the truth. That means they cannot find it, even when it’s clearly spoken directly to him. Why? Because he rejected it. Remember, what we believe is based on our decision to believe. “Don’t confuse me with the truth, I already made up my mind!”
Romans 1:18-24For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore, God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Notice it verse 24 says, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie.” People exchange the truth for a lie all the time. In essence, when a person does not want to know God, he is rejecting Christ. We even see it in places where the Gospel has been freely preached. Have you ever experienced someone shutting you out, or even walking away the moment you began to share Jesus with him or her? Why then, would the Lord send someone to those who refuse to hear?
Our Father seeks everyone in the entire world.
Revelation 3:20Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. “Anyone” is all inclusive. Jesus knocks at everyone’s door, but He only enters where the door is opened to Him. He does not kick it open. Holy Spirit goes throughout the entire planet to draw people to God (read John 16:7-11). You, yourself did not seek God, He sought you. You love Him because He first loved you (see 1 John 4:19). There are examples in the Bible that prove this point. One is the Ethiopian Eunuch to whom the angel of the Lord sent Phillip, found in Acts 8:26-40. He was seeking the true meaning of the Scripture passage found in Isaiah 53:7-8. He was seeking the truth, so the Lord sent Phillip. In Acts 10, an angel was dispatched to Cornelius the Centurion who feared God. He was told to send for Peter who would tell him what he ought to do (see Acts 10:1-48). What was the result? He and his household was saved. His journey to salvation included a divine encounter. Even today, there are numerous accounts of people who had visitations from Jesus, Himself. They received Jesus without a missionary in those cases. Let’s be clear, we all are called to make disciples, but God will go to whatever length necessary, short of violating someone’s will, to save him or her. If someone goes to hell, it is because they rejected the Truth to begin with. It’s not on God; it’s on him or her. Look at His patience with humanity. 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. “Any,” “all” and “everyone,” means any, all and everyone! God is faithful, He will make sure that those who want the Truth, will be able to receive the Truth! Jesus put it this way:
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened (Matthew 7:7).