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.
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Listen while you read: "Lead On O King Eternal" (Lyrics)