When we speak of Division in the Church, we immediately start thinking about the many sects and different expressions of Christianity that is found throughout the World. And yes it is true, that there are many divisions within Christianity, that reflect Ethnicity, Culture, and Theology. These are at best the result of a very simple and universal division in Christianity.
The Bible, however, sees the two Churches very differently. And it sees only two Churches. There is the ‘Pretend Church’ and the ‘Real Church’. And these two Churches have members in almost every Church and Christian gathering.
The Real Church is fixed firmly on Christ Jesus and walks by faith. The Pretend Church is in love with itself and is very busy trying continually to outdo itself. Come this Sunday, wherever you go to worship God, you will most likely encounter people from both Churches. The Bible calls the pretend Christians, ‘Carnal’ or ‘Fleshly’ and it refers to those who are mature in their faith as being ‘spiritual’. (c.f. Romans 8)
In writing his Letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul goes to great lengths to highlight this difference, so that the reader of this letter would be able to identify genuine faith when they see it and also that they may know what pretend faith is and how it behaves.
However the point in drawing this contrast is not so that we would be able to judge and condemn those who have not truly embraced the faith, but rather so we could embrace true faith and encourage those around us, who at present, is just going through the motions. Our goal should be to bring them into the same transforming faith, so that they also may experience the incredible joy and peace that is found in Jesus Christ.
When you grab a cup of tea after Church, what is the conversation? Is it the important ideas of the message, a certain verse in one of the songs that touched a heart or even a prayer burden being shared? No! The probability is that the conversation is gender-specific, and on the masculine side of that equation, the talk will center on work, cars, sport or fishing. Now these things are okay to discuss, however when they dominate the conversation and Spiritual matters are not discussed at all, then it is evident, that those driving the discussion have a shallow faith.
The problem with work, cars, sport, and fishing, is that these things are dead. None of those things endure into eternity. They are for today. Tomorrow they are a memory, that fades with every day and every adventure. Yet our walk with Jesus is for all time. The most important thing anyone ever does is call on the Lord for salvation and every day, they build on that relationship. Jesus Christ called our faith and salvation ‘the pearl of great value’. Surely our conversation should always drift toward Jesus if new life in Him is truly the greatest and most valuable thing in your life.
Are you wanting to move on with your faith, but finding little encouragement? Take a Bible with you to Church next Sunday, inside its cover place a piece of notepaper and have a pen or pencil with you as well. If a song moves you, jot down the words that touched your heart. If there is a point that you hear in the message, make note of it. Then see how many people will engage you in conversation on those points. If the people you normally speak with, don’t encourage you, seek out others. You may find a truly wonderful new friend, who needs your encouragement, as much as you need theirs.