What are your thoughts when you read this headline question?
Have you ever thought much about it, other than to ask someone that question, or to answer it?
I have come to realize that asking someone what church they attend actually causes division. Think about it.
- It causes us to decide whether or not we are interested in continuing much of a conversation with a brother or sister in the Lord, based on their answer.
- It causes us to immediately make decisions about what we think that person believes or doesn’t believe.
Both of those points are really just a nice way of saying we start judging them when we find out what church they attend.
I thought if we are part of the Body of Christ, that makes us all the church. Putting titles and labels on The Church divides us in a way that I don’t think is healthy, or something God intended.
Just asking this one simple question is something that actually puts a hole in the wall of unity, causing a crumbling and weakening in the Body and Church of Jesus Christ.
I am not talking about unity at all costs, nor am I talking about other religions that do not believe Jesus is exactly who He says He is; the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father except through Himself (john 14:6).
I am talking about how the enemy is very sly, very cunning, and will slip in something unnoticed whenever possible to cause the slightest bit of division, because he knows the power of unity.
Most of us are familiar with the Tower of Babel in Genesis chapter eleven. The people were heathens (not followers of God, but worshipers of false gods and idols). They were trying to build a tower to reach the heavens.
God saw what they were doing, and here is His response. “Look, the people are united, they all have a single language, and see what they’re starting to do! At this rate, nothing they set out to accomplish will be impossible for them!”(CJB)
That completely amazes and astounds me. It shows me how powerful unity is; when people come together with one purpose and focus, nothing they set out to accomplish will be impossible for them!
If this is true for heathens, how much more for Christians who are united as one body under the blood covenant of Jesus Christ! Unity is powerful; there is no doubt about it!
This makes me think of something Jesus said. To set the stage, He first asked his followers, “Who do you think I am?”
Peter’s answer was one of deep truth and revelation. “The Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus first tells Peter, “My Father in heaven has personally revealed this to you—this is not from any human source.” Then Jesus declares, “…upon this rock I will build my church; and all the powers of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:13-18 TLB)
The true church of Jesus will be built on the powerful unity of the revelation of who Jesus is. It cannot have division, or the enemy will be able to come against it.
A few years ago, I was attending services with a body of believers, becoming part of their fellowship, and was on a couple of ministry teams. That was when our oldest daughter left this earth for her eternal home with Jesus. In my time of intense grief, some strange things happened, and at one point I was accused of some very serious things. I humbly did my best to submit to the authority of the pastor, to figure out whether I was at fault in any part of what was going on. I wanted to deal with the root source of what was happening, especially if there was something on my end that was causing a wall of division.
Not only was I in deep grief, but I became very weary and wounded in how the process being used seemed to continually come against me and break me down instead of strengthen me and build me up. Things escalated in total confusion, until I received a text from the pastor’s wife telling me I was no longer welcome to attend the church until I admitted my part in causing division and did things their way. To say I was stunned is an understatement!
I felt my ministry board of directors needed to know I had basically been kicked out of a church, which according to scripture is a very serious thing, so I called for a meeting. The response of one of the board members was, “Laura, you can’t be kicked out of a church. You ARE the church!”
I share this, because I believe it is a perfect example of the difference between attending church, and being the church.
So now do you see why I believe that equating The Church with a congregation of people who gather together under the same roof, is something the enemy has slipped in, unnoticed, to cause a wedge of division? It is so subtle, and yet so powerful.
So is it wrong to ask people what church they go to? I can’t answer that for you. All I can say is that for myself, I try to avoid asking anyone that question. I might ask what congregation they fellowship with, or something similar.
I don’t want to be a piece of one of many local churches. I want to be The Church that Christ is building His kingdom on, that the gates of hell cannot stand against. Yes, we may worship and serve in different locations, with a name over that place to identify our different congregations. But we are all One Church, we are all parts of One Body, and we all serve One Risen Lord, who is Jesus Christ.
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