I am stepping out here because I realize that someone might misunderstand it, but here goes…
Last night, I was praying and asking God to specifically speak to me about the Church…
I had a dream last night that was very interesting, and I know that I know that I know that God was speaking to me in the dream. Just so no one gets all worried about this, I believe that all dreams need to be taken to the Word of God to make sure that the dreams do not contradict God’s character and Word already established.
So, my dream was about the Civil War. The focus of the dream was not about the Civil War specifically so there were few details. God was using it to teach me a lesson. I had just read about the Civil War so God took something that would make sense to me to point out a truth. Reminds me of what Jesus did all the time when teaching in parables to the crowds and disciples. He used examples and practical analogies to which the people could relate.
In my dream, the Lord spoke to my heart (very clearly and undeniably His voice) that the Church and often our (my) view of the Church is very much like the conflict between the North and the South. Both sides fought for what they considered to be an important issue. The North fought against slavery and to maintain the Union. The South fought for state rights. There were strengths and weaknesses within both sides. Each side was willing to fight against brother and friend and neighbor even for the sake of their beliefs/causes. The nation was divided over differences on what each side thought was important.
The Lord went on to speak to my heart that what mattered though was unity. I felt very strongly that He was telling me that the same is true with the Church today.
So often, we have churches established around what divides them or sets them apart from other denominations. Believers refuse to give respect or listen to other believers because of where they stand on a doctrinal issue.
We do have a responsibility to “rightly divide the Word of God.” But, we have so often missed the entire message of the Gospel. As Jesus said, “Man isn’t made for the Sabbath but the Sabbath for man.” The Church was not made to serve doctrines, but doctrines are made to serve the Church. Okay, maybe, that is not the best wording, but hopefully, you get my point.
We have forgotten the one thing that endures — the main thing that is a mark of a Christian: love. Christ’s desire is unity. I do not believe this needs to be exclusive of sound doctrine, but you are not going to agree with every Christian on every matter, and you probably do not completely on every issue even with your spouse. So, we can continue to walk around as a divided Church, focusing on what divides us and building churches around our divisions, or we can remember the purpose of the Church. Her purpose is to serve Christ and to establish His kingdom and show forth His righteousness and His love. “They will know us by our love.”
We complain all the time about the state of our nation. We complain about social and moral woes, but we also continue to fight against the rest of the Body. “A House divided against itself cannot stand.”
Please understand that I am not saying that we just link arms with everyone. I would not go into business with a person lacking integrity and moral character. I am just saying that the Body of Christ that is truly desiring to follow Christ, even though they may have a different interpretation of Scripture on some issues, should be able to gather around the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We talk about how we need persecution to purify the Body, but may I also say that persecution helps to unify the Body. Why? Because it separates those who are not there for Christ’s glory, and suddenly, doctrinal differences (for example: Calvinism versus free will or pre-destination versus pre-wrath) no longer seem important. Suddenly, we are so thankful to simply be in the presence of a fellow believer.
What God was speaking to my heart last night was that we have so focused on our causes that we have forgotten that we are the Bride of Christ, and she must walk in unity in order to function to her fullest.
After all, is not our purpose to gather around the work of Christ and not around rules and regulations and doctrinal differences? Should not the focus always be on Christ? Should not He define us and nothing else?
Note: I have strong beliefs on many issues. I search the Scriptures and spend a lot of time really studying the Word to form my beliefs, but ultimately, I am willing to meet, fellowship, and serve alongside other believers who may believe differently on various issues because I understand that we are all the Bride of Christ. I cannot love part of His Bride less than the other part because of a difference in doctrine.