The Overlap

February 19, 2014
by Lynne Phipps

Ephesians 4:4-6 – There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (NIV)

I enjoy word puzzles. One of the puzzles that I enjoy the most involves finding words within a grid. A list of words is given, and those words can run up and down, sideways, or diagonally within the grid. Words can run forwards or backwards, and can also overlap one another, sharing common letters, which sometimes causes a problem as the grid can end up with so many intersecting lines that those common letters are sometimes difficult to discern. When this happens, I really need to concentrate on the overlapping letters in order to spot the missing word.

One day, this difficulty reminded me of a problem that we also have within the church. Since Christ's resurrection and the forming of the first church, the body has split into many different denominations, and then, those denominations have continued to divide within themselves. These splits have come about due to numerous reasons, such as disagreements concerning worship style, the interpretation of certain Scripture passages, ongoing or perceived ongoing sin within a denomination or fellowship, administrative and structural differences, and yes, even personality issues, right on down to carpet and wall colours. These splits are invariably accompanied not only by much anger, frustration, pride, bitterness, and pain, but also by walls that divide one group of Christians from another, none of which witnesses completely effectively to the love of Christ within our world.

So what is the solution? Perhaps it is as simple as doing what I do when I am working on a word puzzle and the intersecting lines make it difficult to find a word: concentrate on the overlapping letters; concentrate on the like things, not the unlike ones.

Scripture states that there is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, one Father who is over all and through all and in all. Perhaps if we concentrated on the things that we all believe instead of on our differences, the church could once again present a united and powerful representation of the living Christ to a lost and hurting world, and come to think of it, isn't that very scriptural as well?

Prayer: Father God, forgive us for the many divisions within Your Body, Your Bride, the Church. Grant us wise and discerning hearts full of love and understanding for one another, that amidst ongoing attacks upon Christianity worldwide, Your people may be drawn back together as we concentrate on our likeness in You and not on our differences. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.

About the author:

Lynne Phipps <lynnephipps@hotmail.com>
Atlin, British Columbia, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Good analogy Lynne and how true. Thanks for sharing.


    Thank you so much Lynn what a good analogy..very understandable and doable.


    Dear Lynne, nice article and lots of truth!
    Blessings.


    Great message Lynne. If only the church would focus more on Jesus and less on our denominational differences.
    Blessings.


    MMM, very good point, LYNNE.
    Thank you for a wonderful positive start to the day.
    Blessings.


    Thank you Lynne.
    Ironically, I’ve been working on something similar about accepting our similarities, though it may not ever make the grade.


    A wise devotional Lynne, brought to my mind an old childhood hymn, “The Wise May Bring Their Learning”. You have a great insight there if we just all concentrate on what we do agree on, we might just find the things we disagree on are not really all that important. As in that old hymn in addition to our learning, we can all bring him hearts that love him and some bring strength and health, trying our best to please.


    Dear Madam,
    You have made a point.
    The Christian body seem to have forgotten John 17:21 – that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.
    May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
    All sects should cease.
    Thank You.


    Dear Lynne:
    While facilitating the Alpha Course at our church, Nicky Gumbel, who developed and teaches Alpha, stated that there are over 30,000 different sects within Christianity. It is my belief that our sinful pride is mostly to blame and if we look to The Lord to heal our divisions instead of depending on ourselves to interpret God’s desire for our churches, we would be more effective in attracting new believers to follow Christ.
    Keep up the good work for God!


    Thanks Lynne for the devotional,
    There was a ton of sense in your submission today. Living almost next to the Baptist church when I grew up we naturally were Baptists. But the rest of the family were Dutch reformed…or deformed as we kidded them. Other family members were Pentecostal. Sometimes the arguments between these three factions nearly took or roof off.
    Since we came to Canada we attended whatever church was available in the mostly rural town. And I can say that I have found God in Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, and Anglican churches.
    And that is why I enjoyed your devotional so much.

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