The Whole Church

"In one room, there may be Baptists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Catholics, Methodists, Assembly of God, Church of God, and numerous other specific faiths, but in all of us should be Jesus Christ, the love of the Father, sent to earth to give us eternal life."

WRITING A BOOK, I learned, early on, takes many people. I am the author, but what I learned about writing came from many others. They taught me how to craft sentences, how to design the plot. I learned character development and dozens of other things about the writing itself. Then, I also had an editor, someone who read the book to find the mistakes I had missed, and who experienced the story from both a reader’s and an editor’s point of view. I did my own graphic designs, i.e. the book cover and advertising designs, but others must pay people for this work. There is also advertising to consider. I had to pay for the advertising at known websites and work with upload systems where the book would be sold. In short, one book takes a lot of people.

The most valuable thing I gained from writing fiction was friendships with other authors, men and women of all faiths, from all places across this country and in other countries, some of whom I had n-o-t-h-i-n-g in common with except writing books. I remember, my first fiction story, someone said my men did not talk like men. So I had a male author read it and give me his opinion. He did not find the same issue and became a wonderful friend over the years. There is also my dearest graphic designer friend. She and I still nosh over book cover designs and font work (my favorite thing to do). I simply cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it is to be part of a community of such great people.

The love of God was manifested in the person of Jesus Christ so that whosoever believes in Him can be saved. Whosoever. Whatever their gender, wherever they were born and raised, whatever education they did or didn’t have, no matter what mistakes they’ve made, how many marriages they’ve had, if they came out of the secular world (what Paul called heathen and pagan culture) or from a religious atmosphere, whether that is Christian or not, whoever that person is at the moment they confess Jesus as Lord, they are now saved 100%. And that person becomes a member of the body of Christ alongside many other people who were also accepted into the beloved. We are all loved by the Father and His Son and His Spirit equally.

Christ’s church as His body is an image painted in Ephesians 1:22, Romans 12, and 1 Corinthians 12. He is the Head of the church, we are His hands and feet, His heart and lungs, and all other organs and extremities in the human body, and for the body to be healthy, to work efficiently, all of the different parts must work alongside each other successfully. This includes the natural awareness of the body to feel pain and discomfort in one area or another. If the foot hurts, the hand knows it and might massage the foot. If the heart beats too fast, the body reacts with a need for more oxygen and rest. The internal organs cannot be seen but are well-felt. If the stomach is upset, all of the body is aware of it.

“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,” (Ephesians 3:9-10)

Division is a snake we have allowed to remain in the grass. We call it by other names, denomination is one, or upbringing, or here’s a big one, ministry gifts. But anything that comes out of our mouths or shows up in our actions that speaks against another person (as in a human being) is division. People’s level of faith, wealth of knowledge, types of creativity, or musical skills are not areas of offense. The world “manifold” in Ephesians 3:10 speaks to this. First in verse 9, it says all men need to see the fellowship of the mystery. The word “fellowship” means communion. It is a mutual participation, a sharing, of one thing.

The mystery of Christ was revealed in Jesus so that we could commune together over the truth in the Word and the blessings salvation provides. Then verse 10 makes an amazing statement, that this that we share, this manifold wisdom, is displayed to PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS in heavenly places BY THE CHURCH. Manifold is a word meaning “variegated” or “marked by a variety of colors.” In other words, God’s wisdom is like a painting made up of various strokes and colors, which when seen as a whole makes a beautiful picture, and the devil and all his demons are supposed to look at us, at the church, and see the power and wisdom of God. It takes unity to do that. It takes compassion. It means when one of us hurts, the other adjusts what he is doing to help him, within the church AS A WHOLE. Not simply your particular, individual church.

Division is a mar on the canvas. And worse, because when we choose to nitpick someone else’s anything at all, we cut short the power of God to work through us and the presence of God to be felt from us. There is so much God wants to do through His body. We are the fullness of Him who fills us and the revealer of the mystery to both people who don’t know Him, and to the enemy who He defeated. But our continual need to organize us into “these” and “those” keeps Him from doing all He desires.

“At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” (Ephesians 1:22-23 MSG)

We are to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Division is a lust of the flesh. We picture it as strife, but it is anything spoken or acted upon which would cause the other person to feel bad about who they are or to be defensive of themselves. Perfect love casts out fear: fear of death, fear of loneliness, fear of condemnation, fear of fear. God’s love does not cause fear. Or division, which can also be something we feel okay about. We don’t see it as pain we’ve caused. Much of sin is done when someone finds nothing wrong with it.

James 3:16 says, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” Strife does not have to sound like an argument or be rimmed with hate. The devil specializes in deception. I’d hate to think what I just said, that I didn’t find fault with, was actually the devil’s idea that I believed in. How are we to know? And how do we unite the body of Christ across cultural, lingual, and doctrinal barriers? We spend time with God in the secret place. We pray in the Spirit and with supplications and petitions, for ourselves and others. We read the Word and learn God’s voice.

We renew our mind and pull down the stronghold that puts “us” against “them.” There is no competition in the body. The finger is not trying to bend quicker than the toe. Nor the middle finger working to outdistance the ring finger. If I sit in the midst of a congregation that is not “like mine,” my job is not to judge the people. If I hear a preacher who I don’t agree with completely, my job is not to make a list of his errors. If I was raised differently from you, I should not be in the habit of seeing those differences as faults, but just as pleased when we part as if I had spoken with anyone else.

Being frank, I don’t want to talk to anyone and waste oxygen between my ears being offended by them. That isn’t like Jesus at all. Jesus died for a thief, for a demoniac, for a Roman centurion standing at His feet. I will make an effort every day, with every person I meet, to be pleasant and kind, to share the presence of God (which doesn’t always require saying anything), and to walk in God’s wisdom. The Spirit keeps me from falling into error or making dangerous personal connections. Protecting me from stumbling is His promise to me. And acting like the love of God is mine to Him.

In one room, there may be Baptists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Catholics, Methodists, Assembly of God, Church of God, and numerous other specific faiths, but in all of us should be Jesus Christ, the love of the Father, sent to earth to give us eternal life. Let’s make Him the center of who we are and BE HIS BODY who the devil fears and not various, unrelated groups who he laughs at.

John 4:1-3, Jesus did not compete with John for more baptisms.
John 4:9, Jesus ministered to a Samaritan woman although Jews did not “have dealings” with Samaritans.
John 4:37-38, One soweth, another reapeth what he has not labored for.

Suzanne D. Williams, Author