Against Tribalism: Part 3 (TCM)
Human beings by nature are divisive. We like to categorize, control, and push away those who do not act or look like we do. The Church is meant to reflect a level of unity that puts the world on notice, and certify that the return of the everlasting King of the universe is immanent. We are intended to be a visible, physical representation of the kingdom of heaven. So the question then becomes, why are we so divided? Within American Christianity there are over 1,500 different denominations and world-wide there are as many as 41,000. That’s right; this is how many denominations there are in Christianity alone, not religions in the world. Now, some are going to make an argument for a visible church, and invisible Church. The visible church is that which we see, the messy, institutionalized grouping of people in buildings, and the invisible Church is the one that is mentioned in scripture as being united in one Lord, and one Spirit. The issue, as I see it, is that I see no evidence whatsoever to believe that this is how the apostles understood the Church. When they spoke of God’s assembly, they were not referencing some theory or idea of community. They were addressing those that they counted members of the community of God and believed that the Church was capable of living and acting as they were being commanded. There was no “visible/invisible” scapegoat like we have created today, there was only the Church.
I want to be completely clear. The apostles were not speaking in theory when they were describing theological realities in which the community of God existed. They were speaking to people needing practical helpful advice for how to live with one another in community. It isn’t easy, but it’s far from theoretical and conceptual.
Everything that the apostles wrote was brutally honest, and held the Church to a high standard of living. So, the writings of the apostles were done to communicate practical, real advice (I think I’ve said this about 3 times already but I really want it to hit home). Since this is how the apostles spoke of the Church, are we not doing ourselves, Christ, and the world a disservice by giving ourselves a pass for the sake of keeping things as we like them, easy?
Examples of this are rampant within the church. People who vie for particular causes whether they be pro-life, feminist, race relations, pro/anti-gay are in many cases willing to break communion with people who disagree with the importance of their “pet” project. This is (and I cannot stress this enough) SIN. You allow a secondary issue to divide the body of Christ. You break communion with a person who has been redeemed as you are for selfish ambition and your own wanton need to see God move in a fashion that you would like. This is tempting for all Christians, not just those within a particular demographic. Sure, it looks different, but it is nonetheless there. As Christians, we have been given a mission, and that mission did not include pet projects. It included the baptizing and discipleship of people into the kingdom of heaven, united by our one Lord (Christ), and indwelt by one Spirit (the Holy Spirit). When communion is broken over these secondary issues, we do damage to ourselves, the gospel, and the kingdom of heaven as a whole. We must keep in mind that we are bound in the person of Jesus first and foremost. This realization must come before our allegiance to our country, our ideals, our sexual orientation, and even our ethnicity. It must be what defines us as children of the Most High God, not allowing these differences to divide us into smaller pieces. I pray earnestly that each person reading this understand that you were bought at a price, that you are no longer your own to pursue whatever idea of justice you think appropriate. You have been commissioned to the preaching of the gospel and the discipleship of people into Jesus. I think it’s time we get back to doing what God has empowered us to do in the Holy Spirit and allow the Him to change the rest in His good timing. Let us not fall into the same trap as the Jews, constantly pushing our own agenda and instead, wait on the perfect timing of God. This should not keep us from speaking truth, but should dictate how we articulate the truth to different people in different situations pressing into the Holy Spirit for guidance and relying on Him for strength. Peace and Blessings and as always thank you for reading.