Unity in the Church

Psalm 132, Isaiah 62, Hebrews 5:11 – 6:20

Still thinking on Isaiah 62.  I need to do more study on it.  Moving ahead in Hebrews but the going is slow.

I read and re-read Hebrews 5:14 with the bold words jumping at me —

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Hebrews 6 (end of verse 4 through beginning of verse 6) goes on to talk about believers —

…who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away…

Is this the good from evil we must distinguish?  Are these ones who have fallen away the ones who haven’t learned to distinguish good from evil?

I found myself asking these questions in light of a website I had visited yesterday that was highly critical of some prominent evangelicals.

I don’t think it was by accident that I added another prayer to my quiet time this morning.  Yesterday, I happened to notice a prayer in the prayer book I use called, “A Prayer for all Conditions of Men.”  Yesterday, I had decided to add that prayer to my time this morning.  God, in His infinite wisdom, knew these words would hold meaning today —

Here is the prayer in its entirety, with words in bold that spoke to me —

O God, the Creator and Preserver of all mankind, we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men;  that thou wouldest be pleased to make thy ways known unto them, thy saving health unto all nations.  More especially we pray for thy holy Church universal; that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life.  Finally, we commend to thy fatherly goodness, all those who are any ways afflicted, or distressed, in mind, body, or estate; that it may please thee to comfort and relieve them, according to their several necessities; giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy issue out of all their afflictions.  And this we beg for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

I have been struck, as I walk the streets of our little town, how all along one street, at one point there were five churches within about 3 or 4 blocks.  Satan’s greatest blow has been to splinter those who call themselves Christians.

Months ago I changed the Nicene Creed (shocking, I know) that I say because the words in it — “I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church” didn’t mean anything to me.  So I decided to say what I do believe about the church — “I believe the Church is the body of Christ, who shows herself to the world by her unity and her love for one another both within and without her walls.”

This website I had visited, the one that kept replaying in my mind through the evening and into my quiet time with God this morning, under the guise of reproving and rebuking, is destructive and mean-spirited.  It attacks fellow believers — not reproving or rebuking in a loving way — it attacks fellow Christians, and I fear we lose the bigger battles as we fight against each other.

So Lord, today I do pray, with all my heart, “that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace and in righteousness of life.”  I pray that we would not be sucked into fighting amongst ourselves, but would show Your love to the world.  You make a difference in my life.  Let the world see that difference in me and in the Church.

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