We Will Stand, by CCM artist Russ Taff, was released in 1983. It was the first solo release after Russ left The Imperials, and it became an anthem that called all denominations of Christianity to unite as one church. The Scriptures call this unified church the “body” of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-14).
As true worshipers of God we are not supposed to exist as independent believers, serving Christ on solo missions. No, we are each one member of a vast group of people known as “the Church.” Just as our bodies are made up of many cells, which make up many organs, which all work together to facilitate every member and limb, so too are we each tasked to work with one another for the good of each other and Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
Jesus Christ, as the head of the body, dictates to the believer their function, and it is up to each one of us to respond to His call. If we do, then the “body” of believers known as the Church will benefit and Christ will be glorified (Colossians 1:17-23).
Does that mean the many denominations that exists in Christianity today are bad, or wrong? No! God is sovereign. He rules over all things, and has allowed every Christian denomination to exist for a reason. The many factions of modern Christianity may have come about because of something negative that took place in the past, but the fact still remains that God can use our mistakes — our divisions — for His glory and our good.
Consider the story of the Apostle Paul and Barnabus, in Acts chapter fifteen, where an argument ensued between the two over whether John Mark should be allowed to join them on their second missionary journey. Barnabus insisted that John Mark should be given a second chance at serving God in this manner, despite his having abandoned them on their first missionary journey. Paul, however, was not so benevolent at the time and refused to let John Mark accompany them. So, Barnabus left Paul’s side and went home with John Mark, and Paul teamed up with Silas (Acts 15:36-41).
Satan may have tried to divide Paul and Barnabus, and in all appearances did so successfully, but for those of us who have read the New Testament accounts we know that not only did Paul and Silas do some incredible things to further the kingdom of Christ but Barnabus was also able to mentor John Mark and see him become a great man of God. In fact, John Mark not only wrote The Gospel of Mark, he also later reconnected with Paul and became invaluable to him and his ministry.
True believers of Christ — Christians who are growing into the true worshipers that God has called them to be — must learn to unite as one body of believers, for the sake of Christ and His kingdom. True believers who are ready, willing, and able to look past each other’s differences (no matter what those differences may be) to see each other’s godly purpose and function.
Once we recognize the fact that we all have our special callings from God, not only as individuals but also as denominational bodies, then we can act as united members of the true Christian church (1 Corinthians 12:1-31a). The Apostle Paul, many years after his disagreement with Barnabus, dealt with factions and varying motivations in his letter to the Philippians. In the very first chapter, a more spiritually mature Paul writes:
“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the Word of God more courageously and fearlessly. It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the Gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.” (Philippians 1:12-18)
Instead of getting angry and disgruntled, as he had done earlier with Barnabus, Paul was able to love and encourage others to love. In spite of his situation, and the intent of others who claimed to be believers, and in spite of the negative motivations that propelled these people to act as they did. Paul simply focused on the “bigger picture” — the preaching of the Gospel message — the glorification of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Shouldn’t we, brothers and sisters in Christ, do the same? Shouldn’t we act as members of a united body of believers? Christians who are not eager to maim and destroy each other, but act as a church body that loves, cares, and nurtures its self for the glory of Christ. Jesus did, after all, tell us directly this same thing in the thirteenth chapter of John:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Come on brothers and sisters, take each other by the hand and love one another as Christ loves us.
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