Ecumenism (Unity in the Corporate Body of Christ)

The goal....

Within a couple years of having made decision for Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, God impressed upon me to write about the existence of division within the Body of Christ. His desire is unity and a focus on that which is most important - loving Him and our neighbors as ourselves.

I believe what prompted this was my having come to know Jesus while hanging out with Southern Baptists in Hawaii. I began growing in my faith and serving with others right from the get go. In so doing, I became acquainted with other believers from the Assembly's of God and The Four Square church in my town. Together we served the community in various ways and the Catholic church would also sometimes participate. I was cautioned however about some 'doctrinal differences' and sadly realized division existed. So understand that what I'm sharing is in reference to The Church and The Corporate Body, not one church in particular.

Unless I'm mistaken, the church first experienced division over the subject of circumcision. The Jews wanted the Gentiles to become Jews by adhering to the Law. It seemed that only as Jews, did some of the apostles find the Gentiles acceptable. Paul argued to let Jews be Jews, and let Gentiles be Gentiles because the same Spirit has been poured out on all those who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. All people, no matter their race or their nation, are acceptable to God. Christ has set us free, and he desires for us to love him and one another. Regarding the Jews and the Gentiles, Paul says in Ephesians 2:14-18, "For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with it's commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit." Paul goes on to say God's people are all members of His household, vs. 20-22 says we are "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit."

Today, I believe division exists for various reasons and as long as it continues, I don't believe we are going to be very effective in furthering the kingdom. An obstacle that I believe hinders us from growing as Spirit filled believer's includes being too comfortable and resisting change. It's simply human nature that gives us the tendency to associate with others who are like ourselves; those who share the same interests, ideas and attitudes about life in general. I believe we should be challenged to be more like Jesus, which involves loving and associating with people from all walks of life. Remember the body is a unit, though made up of many parts. Be challenged to bless someone who has nothing much in common with yourself; the recipient of the blessing isn't the only one who will be touched by it. Be encouraged in this because we are told in Joshua 1, "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous.....Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

Division also exists due to lack of understanding about spiritual gifts and God wants us to move and grow in the gifts He has given us. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:1, "Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant." In this chapter, Paul refers to some of the following gifts: the message of wisdom, the message of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues, the interpretation of tongues. He ends the third paragraph of this chapter by saying,"All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one just as he determines." It has been my experience having fellowshipped with people from various congregations that some of these gifts can be a stumbling block. Although people may not be aware they may possess and express negative attitudes regarding certain gifts, these attitudes and expressions are out there. It's ludicrous to me that some believe that some gifts were only for a certain time period - Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. I know some have asked God to bless them with certain gifts and they believe He hasn't, which for them is difficult to understand since God wants to give good gifts to His children. I believe God is not going to bestow certain gifts to those who have spoken negatively about anointed members from churches - or the churches themselves. We must have a clean heart and a right attitude. In Mark 11:17 Jesus said, "Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.' But you have made it a den of robbers!" Some may think what I'm about to say is taken out of context yet I believe it's revelatory...I think it's possible Jesus was upset here because His house of worship had not only become a place for doing business, but because it became a barrier for some of those simply wanting to worship. Just for the record, I do believe order in church needs to exist. The main thing is the main thing though and that is who Jesus is, what he did and why we need him. Lord Jesus, may the walls come down and unity prevail! If some have received gifts which are unfamiliar or different from anothers, may you bring to their minds that our gifts are designed to root us deeper in You, equip us for service, build one another up, and not discourage or move us away from You or each other. May there not be any dissension over gifts, but may we be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and may any unholy thought be taken captive...In Jesus name - amen.

To contrast that, I'd also caution some Christians not to conduct themselves as though they have an air of spiritual superiority because of how they've been blessed and or the gifts they've received. If we live and act without love, our gifts are meaningless. Humility must be preserved. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all - for His glory!

In Mark 11:12-15, Jesus was hungry (people come across our paths all the time who are in need, whether it be spiritually, physically, emotionally, relationally, financially etc). He came across a great looking fig tree, but it only looked good - it was without fruit. He said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." May we operate freely in our giftings and be good stewards of our talents. May we give of ourselves, meet others needs, and do all these things with right attitudes and motives, in love and unity.

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Comments 12 comments

christinekv profile image

christinekv 4 years ago from Washington Author

HI Mark,

Thanks for visiting, contemplating what I wrote and sharing your views. I agree with most of what you say. As long as people are respected and missionaries don't try to morph people of different cultures to model themselves, I don't have a problem with sharing the gospel in other lands. Sharing the gospel can manifest in varied ways too (may not always involve preaching). Not sure what your issue is with speaking in tongues but do respect your not wanting to go down that road.

Shalom,

Christine


Mark.Issa profile image

Mark.Issa 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Hi Christine,

I don't mean to be pessimistic but I don't think that full unity of the body of Christ can come about in this world. I am Orthodox and I am so fond of church history and denominational issues (we call it comparative theology in my church) and I've prayed in almost all kinds of Christian churches because I wanted to meet other Christians and learn better about their views and practices, and my experiences and studies made me come to a few conclusions:

a) No church on earth is perfect in its doctrines and belief system, however, being a devout Christian is not about your denomination but rather it's a personal choice.

b) There can be mutual respect, understanding and recognition among us as Christian individuals, however there will never be full unity of Christian churches, not only due to theological differences but also due to historical and cultural differences. As a matter of fact, I don't think it's necessary as long as there's mutual recognition. But what is really necessary is that we must stop bashing each other, bringing up things that happened hundreds of years ago and building on another man's foundation (i. e. preaching in each other's lands) (Romans 15:20).

Only if we stop doing these things there will be hope for closeness of views.

About the gift of speaking in tongues, I do believe the Holy Spirit can still any of His gifts until this day if there's a need for this gift. However, I do have a few reservations about the practising of the gift in Pentecostal and Charismatic churches but I don't wish to go into that now.

Have a blessed day in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Mark


christinekv profile image

christinekv 8 years ago from Washington Author

Hi Mike -

Well I'm excited to find another here with whom I'm in one accord...bonded by the Spirit! Thanks for being such a blessing!

I'm humbled by your praises....and I thank God others see in me some of Christ's wonderful attributes. It's an honor and a blessing to be a blessing to others. Yes, He did make me bold and He is my source of strength! It's amazing since as a kid, I was so unable to express my true heart and feelings to my dad and step mom. I lived in fear (of her in particular)....the enemy started his attempt to ingrain fear into me at an early age (with my mom leaving when I was six) in an effort to render me powerless for the future God had in store for me (Jeremiah 29:11 -13!). A classic example of Satan being able to see things in God's beloved and how he fears it and tries to thwart....boy did my leaving them when I turned 16 to live with my mom and step dad unleash something else! Whatever came to mind came out my mouth! Now having more wisdom I bite my tongue more than I used to LOL!

Others have said I'm born to lead. I actually write better than I speak though I think. I can speak well in front of others though if I'm prepared and/or prompted by the Holy Spirit. If I give a Word in church (usually to include scripture directly from the Word or it may be in relation to Scripture I've committed to memory) there have been times I've reviewed it in my mind, thinking of things I left out I wish I would have included....women tend to overanalyze sometimes, which could be a fleshy thing...

Pastor....not my gifting. I'm not a Psalm 23 person and when you read my comment to you and AEvans on the "Standing Before God" hub, you may better understand why I say that. My heart does ache and break to see people saved, healed, delivered, set free (Isaiah 61!) and I am an intercessor who is often moved to tears for those who are still bound. I've never had anyone tell me I'm a gifted teacher before....I know I'm an Evangelist, an Intercessor and gifted in the Prophetic and I'm looking forward to being trained up more in this gift. Yet, I want it all, for the glory of King Jesus!


mikeq107 8 years ago

Christine :0)

You are such a wonderful breath of fresh air ;)))) As I read your hubs its like reading my own thoughts and desires for the church in this country and beyond. The best part is that God is raising you by his spirit to lead and pastor and I admire your boldness and strenght that he has blessed you with.

Your Brother In Jesus Mike ;0)

Ps your a gifted teacher too...like you don`t know LOL


christinekv profile image

christinekv 8 years ago from Washington Author

Thanks Einron for visiting and commenting. If I understand you correctly, it sounds as though you don't approve of believers having a sabbath on any day except for Saturday. Although the Lord has been speaking to me personally about making sure I take "a day" to observe the sabbath (or have a day of rest each week), with the line of work I'm in, it can be challenging/difficult. If your position is in fact that it is only to be on Saturday's, I'm going to disagree w/ you based on my understanding of Scripture.

Without getting too deep in explaining my perspective, I just want others to understand that although I don't believe in compromising when it comes to what scripture says (I'm not into the "seeker friendly" diluted version of the Word that some preach or accept) there really needs to be a leading of the Spirit in how we as Christians witness. A demonic, divisive, Religious spirit does exist which I can get very indignant about and as an intercessor, I am no stranger to doing warfare against it. I appreciate those who are zealous for God and who desire to evangelize, preach and teach since these are much needed gifts. We also need to be listening to HIM and discerning whether or not somone needs to be shown the love of Christ through exhibiting a gentle and quiet demeanor (be in a place of "listening"), making an effort to develop a relationship, give of ourselves w/ random acts of kindness etc. When we are called or prompted to speak the Word to others, we need to discern whether or not someone needs to hear about love, grace and mercy based on where they are at. Many people already know they are sinful and need to understand how much God loves and values them and wants them to know Him. I'm a classic example of someone who came from that category. Then there are others who have lived what they consider to be a "good" life, they are not "needy" when it comes to any type of physical comfort, but they don't understand that without Christ, people are judged by the Law and there has never been anybody who has lived that hasn't broken at least one of the commandment; the very reason Jesus had to come and make a way for us.

My motivation for writing this hub occured several years ago when I went from fellowshipping in a Baptist Church (I'd always correct a couple "Baptists" when they'd refer to "us" as "Baptists" since I considered myself 'just Christian'...) to fellowshipping w/ believers from both Four Square and Assemblies of God (who fellowshipped and worked together to reach out to the community and further the kingdom). I was heartbroken to learn there was a problem working together based on doctrinal differences and lies from Satan (he has a way of twisting things) that the Baptists believed the two other churches believed about anyone who had not received the gift of speaking in tongues. God wants us to be one body, and not let denomination or theological differences get in the way, as long as we all believe the same main, pivotal thing about who Christ is. I know some people who have come from Catholic backgrounds and didn't find fullfillment or had bad experiences there and so have a hardened heart toward the Catholic church. I've also encountered some spirit filled, Christ loving people who I know are Christians, and they are members of the Catholic church. Each individual Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit.... then collectively, regardless of where we fellowship, we are to be one corporate unified body.

Looking back at history and what the scripture says, there have been churches where correction has needed to occur and through the ages, this hasn't changed.

The main thing I wanted to get across is this: may we approach one another w/ humility and love - as long as we agree on WHO Christ is, WHAT He's done for us and WHY (and what every individual ought to do with Him); then we are brothers and sisters in Christ. On the things we don't agree on, maybe we can be humble enough to learn to understand each other and learn from one another, always going back to the scriptures and seeking Him as the final authority on any and every position. If we still don't agree, agree to disagree and not let that hinder our relationships.


einron profile image

einron 8 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

You are quite fluent in your writing.  In a sense, all Christians are united in that they believe in Jesus.  The Bible says that there will be ONE TRUE CHURCH.  The Church must completely conform to the teachings of Christ and not deviate in any way.

Take for example, the 4th commandment.  The majority of the churches observe Sunday instead of Saturday.  If one breaks any of the 10 commandments, one breaks all.  The Sunday keepers based their premise mainly on two points. 

(1) John 20:19

Objection: The disciples gathered for fear of the Jews, not because of keeping the Sabbath.

(2) Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week (Sunday).

Objection: Jesus did not give instructions on changing the day. Neither did the disciples change the day

Remember my first hub (Prophecy - Isaiah 4:1 - Seven Women and One Man), which interpreted means all churches have some fault in them.  Unless they change, they will not be saved.

I am slowly going to complete writing about all the seven churches.  At present, Jesus Christ the Lamb is waiting for His perfect church, the bride of the Lamb. 

When Christ comes the second time to the earth, there will be a "Bride" for the "Lamb of God".


christinekv profile image

christinekv 8 years ago from Washington Author

Hi Brendan -

Thanks for checking out the hub - glad you appreciate it and glad to learn we share a kindred spirit on the issue of unity. I would be really interested in checking out your book - you'll have to keep me posted! God bless!


godfactauthor profile image

godfactauthor 8 years ago from Auckland

Thanks for the great hub. Unity is on my heart too. My dream is to see full unity with the Catholic and Orthodox Church. To accomplish that dream I am writing a book to foster reconciliation due to the Third Crusade.

God bless

Brendan

www.godfact.com


christinekv profile image

christinekv 8 years ago from Washington Author

Thanks for reading and your encouragment LdsNana-AskMormon!


LdsNana-AskMormon profile image

LdsNana-AskMormon 8 years ago from Southern California

Great insights christinekv. I am so glad you are at HubPages! I look forward to your words...

tDMg


christinekv profile image

christinekv 9 years ago from Washington Author

Thanks for the encouragement Peter!


Peter M. Lopez profile image

Peter M. Lopez 9 years ago from Sweetwater, TX

Nice hub. I look forward to reading more in the future.

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