What divides what should be unified in the Body of Christ?

by Mike Ratliff

9 Διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡμεῖς, ἀφʼ ἧς ἡμέρας ἠκούσαμεν, οὐ παυόμεθα ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν προσευχόμενοι καὶ αἰτούμενοι, ἵνα πληρωθῆτε τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ καὶ συνέσει πνευματικῇ, 10 περιπατῆσαι ἀξίως τοῦ κυρίου εἰς πᾶσαν ἀρεσκείαν, ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ ἀγαθῷ καρποφοροῦντες καὶ αὐξανόμενοι τῇ ἐπιγνώσει τοῦ θεοῦ, Colossians 1:9-10 (NA28)

9 Therefore, we also from the day which we heard, do not cease praying for you and asking that you be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,10 to walk worthy of the Lord in every way pleasing to Him in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God;  Colossians 1:9-10 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In discussions with other believers we have all come to the conclusion that our walks in this life are actually a continuous series of tests and trials, putting us into places of contention in which it is has become apparent to us that the way we have gone before is not how God would have us go and be walking worthy of the Lord in every way pleasing to Him in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God. If we become self-focused and prayer-less through this then this could become very burdensome and discouraging. However, as seek the Lord’s face in prayer and repentance we see that God is putting those things in us that are not of Christ under the spotlight, such as pride. Our response to this is crucial. We can respond the way the world does in arrogance and self-protection or we can, in the power of the Holy Spirit, deny self and  μετὰ πάσης ταπεινοφροσύνης καὶ πραΰτητος, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, seek to ἀνέχομαι, forebear with those with whom we are in contention ἐν ἀγάπῃ, in love. Of course, I have paraphrased Ephesians 4:2, which is actually about unity within the Body of Christ. However, I am convinced that we must also apply the same forbearance to everyone while never compromising by unifying with those who are not true Christians. Shouldn’t we treat everyone the way our Lord would?

1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς ἐγὼ ὁ δέσμιος ἐν κυρίῳ ἀξίως περιπατῆσαι τῆς κλήσεως ἧς ἐκλήθητε, 2 μετὰ πάσης ταπεινοφροσύνης καὶ πραΰτητος, μετὰ μακροθυμίας, ἀνεχόμενοι ἀλλήλων ἐν ἀγάπῃ, 3 σπουδάζοντες τηρεῖν τὴν ἑνότητα τοῦ πνεύματος ἐν τῷ συνδέσμῳ τῆς εἰρήνης· 4 Ἓν σῶμα καὶ ἓν πνεῦμα, καθὼς καὶ ἐκλήθητε ἐν μιᾷ ἐλπίδι τῆς κλήσεως ὑμῶν·
5 εἷς κύριος, μία πίστις, ἓν βάπτισμα,
6 εἷς θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ πάντων,
ὁ ἐπὶ πάντων καὶ διὰ πάντων καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν. Ephesians 4:1-6 (NA28)

1 Therefore, I encourage you, the prisoner in the Lord, to walk worthy of the calling by which you were called. 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love, 3 being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace. 4 As there is one body and one Spirit, as also you were called in one hope of your calling;
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 one God and Father of all,
the one over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

What divides what should be unified in the Body of Christ? Pride being manifest instead of humility in relationships is the paramount problem. I know that some thought I was going to say doctrine, but that is an accusation by liberals who call themselves Christians, but who seek unity on what is not biblical. They say that doctrine divides. Well, it may divide the righteous from the unrighteous, but it most certainly does not divide the righteous from one another. However, within the true Body of Christ, as this passage makes clear, we have the responsibility to seek unity amongst our true brethren don’t we?

The word translated here as “lowliness” is the noun ταπεινοφροσύνης, which is the Genitive, Singular form of ταπεινοφροσύνη (tapeinophrosunē), which pictures modesty, humility, and lowliness of mind, having a humble opinion of oneself, a deep sense of one’s littleness. Those who have this sense of self know how little they really are. Of course, this is in light of who they are in the light of God, His mercy, His Grace, His Sovereignty, His omnipotence, His omniscience, His omnipresence, His immutability, et cetera. When you add in the Gospel and the fact that we in no way are deserving of His mercy, His grace and eternal life then you begin to get the picture that we must take that sense of self and place it in effect in all our relationships.

Yes, that is what this passage is saying and that is what we are commanded to do in all our relationships, especially those within the Body of Christ. In our day, how often do we hear Christianized messages replete with emphasis on self-esteem and self-glorification? My brethren, these are the exact opposite of what God’s Word is commanding us how to live and relate one to another.

What about those who are insistent in their attempts to infiltrate this ministry or your ministry with their “opinions” that are obviously unbiblical and are often heretical? I block most of them and deal with them offline because I do not want to destroy the atmosphere here that is based on affirmation in the Word of God, not opinion. However, as I said, I get much input from those with “views” that are not based upon sound doctrine and are more often than not, just opinions. I also get “contact me” messages quite a bit from Roman Catholics or some other religious group trying to get me to move over to their side. It is so intriguing how they do it at times. My studies in Apologetics makes it very easy to spot where the root error is in their arguments or opinions, but these people are really blind to it themselves. How do we treat these people? Are we arrogant with them while being humble to those with whom we agree? No, we cannot do that.

The way we must do that is to never back away from the truth, but also to never fall into the trap of reasoning at their level. Instead, we give them a gentle rebuke. We tell them the truth and why it is the truth and why what they share is not the truth, but name-calling and falling into emotional, never-ending arguing is not the way. That is why I made the requirement for debate on this blog to be Biblical proof. Opinion is just that.

Be blessed in the Lord my brethren. Remember to pray for wisdom and discernment everyday.

Soli Deo Gloria!

2 thoughts on “What divides what should be unified in the Body of Christ?

  1. This is the wisdom I need for my interactions with my brethren and with those who need to hear the Gospel. Thank you!

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