Originally posted on Facebook on February 19, 2014.
It has long been on my heart. On numerous occasions I have written about it in some or fashion. It is a matter which God has laid on my heart and therefore it will remain there until He lifts it from me. This crucial issue of which I speak is division in the church.
In the first century Paul advised the church in Corinth to set aside their petty disagreements. Whether the first century or the twenty-first century, division in the Body of Christ causes great damage. Jesus warned that a house divided against itself would not stand. Yet sadly, as we look at the church in the United States it is just that… Divided.
The fact is, the church in this nation is far removed from persecution. We are blessed with provision for every physical need. Metaphorically speaking, we have become fat and lazy. As a result, rather than reaching the world with the Gospel, much of the church has turned inward. Souls are perishing as a direct result of this divided, lethargic and petty house.
It pains me to write such words. I remember when Jesus first changed my heart I got excited anytime I saw a “Jesus fish” or any other symbol on a vehicle that indicated the occupant was a Christian. I didn’t see black, white or yellow. I didn’t see First Baptist, United Methodist and Presbyterian. I saw brothers and sisters covered by the blood of the Lamb.
As I began ministering on the Internet it didn’t take long before the questions started coming up. “What version of the Bible do you support?” “What do you believe about this?” “What do you believe about that?” My answers on these less crucial questions sometimes determined whether they would listen to a word I said. The division was apparent and my eyes were opened to it whether I wanted them opened or not.
In no way am I saying we need to agree on all matters. That simply isn’t feasible. However, we must be careful about what matters divide. For example, I learned that my pastor does not believe in the pre-tribulation rapture. I do. Have we discussed in some detail how we formed our beliefs? Absolutely. Do we allow it to form a wall of division between us? No way! I love my pastor dearly and he loves me. So while we have discussed our differing beliefs, our eyes are focused on more important things. We pray over a lost and dying world. We unite over the cause of the Gospel. We agree that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no man comes into relationship with the Father but through Him.
The real question is this. Is the love that unites us greater than the disagreements that divide us? If the love is stronger, the church stands united. If the disagreement is stronger, we split into factions. We dig our heels into the dirt and we hold stubbornly to a point that causes greater harm than good… Even if we are right about it.
The fact is the enemy understands that to divide is to conquer. He knows the truth of Jesus’ words and he uses the fruits of the flesh to accomplish his tasks. Jealousy, rage, pride and indignation form the foxholes where many men and women remain entrenched. The need to be right eclipses the need to glorify Christ and all the sudden the Spanish Inquisition is born again and the church begins killing its own.
I pray those days never come and honestly do not expect they will. However, I do see the danger of church which is turned inward as the world around it is spinning out of control. The United States has never witnessed martyrdom on a great scale, but mark my words when I say that we will. I wonder, in those days which lie ahead will there be any petty factions arguing over whether to read the King James or the NIV? I think not. In these days we will resort to the greatest common denominator, Christ in us. All else will seem shallow and unimportant.
About a year ago in prayer, the LORD told me what He was going to do. He said, “I am going to erase many lines and draw a new line.” I don’t have a seer’s gift but as He laid out what was happening, I drew the picture in my mind. It looked something like this.
Now let me explain what I was being shown.
The strong black lines represent the strong division within the church. They show the division based on denominations and disagreements. These lines represent a fractured, divided church.
The light gray line represents the separation between the church and the world. We have reached a place where in many ways we are indistinguishable. We do not stand out a as a bride which has been set apart. We do not stand out as a holy people. Outsiders would likely say of their Christian neighbors. “Well, they go to church on Sunday morning and we don’t.” They wouldn’t see anything real or tangible. That thin gray line, if I could adequately represent it, would look more like a line which has eroded and is mostly erased.
The LORD said, “This is what things will look like when I am done with them.”
The line which faded, the one which separated My people from the world, is being re-drawn. It will be so apparent that there will be no question. My people will not look like the people of this world. My people will be a holy, set aside people.
The lines which have been erased are those lines which created division among My people and have kept them from being effective. No longer will there be petty division. Rather, there will be ONE body… The bride which has made itself ready for the Bridegroom.
This day is coming. The LORD did not tell me when this day would come only that it was soon. Persecution will be the catalyst that erases the old lines and re-draws the old, faded line.
For some reading this, it may promote fear. I tell you, you must set this aside. Our lives and our comforts on this planet are secondary to God’s purpose being accomplished. Our wealth and convenience are irrelevant when it comes to the spotless white Bride that Christ is coming to whisk away to His Father’s house.
In Christianity’s infancy, the church was under great persecution. Many were martyred for their faith. The purpose of persecution was to squelch this movement of Christ followers and yet what it did was solidify the faith of those who proclaimed Christ. There were no “fashionable Christians” who went to church on Sundays to improve their image. There were no “casual Christians” who adopted a “take it or leave it” mentality regarding Christ. There was only a solidified, sold out movement for Jesus… The kind of movement that even the gates of Hell could not prevail against… And they didnt.
Ultimately it was the world which adopted Christ, not the Body of Christ which took on the world and its system. At least that’s how it began in 325 AD. The church had endured centuries of persecution only to have Emperor Constantine proclaim that Christianity was the new official religion of the empire.
Overnight, paganism was integrated with Christ. This commonly happens when an endogenous people steeped in generations of tradition receives Christ but in the case of the Romans, they received Christ and they had the upper hand of power and control. Some argue that Constantine didn’t accept Christ at all. Rather, he found a way to mask paganism under the veil of Christianity.
Regardless of what actually occurred, the result was undeniable. The Roman Catholic Church became the new tyrant and Christians began being persecuted in the name of Christ.
Without digressing into a history lesson, the fact is that where there is persecution, there is solidification within the church. That persecution will reach a new land soon and will solidify the church of the United States.
I close with the words of the Apostle Paul written to the church in Corinth. “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought” 1 Corinthians 1:20.
Pray over it. Prepare your hearts for it. It is coming and when it does the walls will topple and the Body of Christ will shine!
Mitch Salmon is a follower of Jesus Christ and proclaimer of the good news!