To be Christian is to share blood ties with every human because Christ shed blood for the redemption of all men without partiality. Christ gave His life as a ransom for all pagans and savages, and in case you have not been enlightened, by the standards of GOD that is all humans before atonement. I used that verbiage because the wealth of so many associated with Christianity has been built upon the exploitation of those considered pagans and savages. To truly know Christ is to know that all people are lovable and equal in their need for His amazing grace. The scripture does not say that GOD so loved Christians or Jews or Whites or Blacks or Republicans or Democrats that He gave His only begotten son, it reads:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John3:16 KJV)
The word world used in John 3:16 is a reference to all the people which live on earth. This is covered in the whosoever used in the same verse, defined by Merriam Webster as whatever person, no matter who. Christ stated that the evidence of someone living subject to His teachings is that they love as He loved (John 13:34-35). Anyone that does not love whatever person, no matter who has not received the teachings of Christ and therefore should not be considered a Christian by themselves or others. This may sound harsh but I encourage you to read the words of Christ in Matthew 25:31-46 .
The hard and indifferent hearts shown to the world by so many who associate themselves with Christ the Savior is damaging. Christ says if we do not gather with Him, then we scatter abroad. If we confess His name and then refuse to love, our witness pushes people further away. Anyone who watches the news or spends any time on social media can identify the hate which is being perpetuated in the world today. We cannot be afraid to call it what it is and denounce it.
I was reading an article my daughter sent me recently, which she said reminded her of an ongoing conversation we have had regarding the disunity in Christian organizations. She sent me a link to a letter posted by the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Atlanta, explaining why his ministry has left the Southern Baptist Convention. He provided a very detailed, gracious, and heartfelt explanation. In expounding on how he came to this decision, he spoke about the issues he witnessed with those professing they wanted unity without a willingness to acknowledge or tear down the walls which divide. It reminded me of the work Paul was trying to accomplish in his letter to the Ephesians. In trying to bring the Church in Ephesus together as one body, chapter 4 emphasizes Paul’s belief that there had to be permeating truth which all submitted to. Paul understood the Satan tries to keep people lost by mingling darkness with light, blurring the true with the false.
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (Ephesians 4:14-15 KJV)
On the topic of unity in the Church, I recommend studying the book of Ephesians. The Apostle Paul gives us a field manual for living in an age of misinformation.
Essentially it is the things we have in common which facilitates our bond of unity. As Christians, that would be our emersion in the two great commandments which Christ gave.
“The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31, NKJV)
GOD is truth. As Christians, we should love truth with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. If we deny truth, or are in different to truth, then we are failing the first of the great commandments. This will cause division between us and GOD, as well as those like Him. Those like Him being the Church born in the image of GOD. As Christians, acknowledging and submitting to truth is the mechanism which works in us to destroy the falsehoods which divide us from GOD and one another. The founding virtue for sustainable life is a love for truth. Salvation has come to man in the form of the Light of life, this light is the truth.
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NKJV)
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32 NKJV)
To be captive is to be confined or held in a particular space as a prisoner. The truth comes and liberates us from being imprisoned by the powers of darkness in false ideas, beliefs, and ways of thinking. The Truth has come and freed us with the power to choose and given us the motivation to choose righteously. The truth provides us the freedom and means to have an enduring unity with GOD and His children. As we live by the rule of love in light of truth, we find we are compelled to see the same conclusions to the circumstances of this life. Though we may differ in approach, as our callings and talents are different, we aspire to see the same end, that love prevails, and GOD is glorified, and evil is abolished. The Lord has gone to great lengths to ensure that His will is known. When the truth is known and there is still opposition to the Lord’s will, evil is at work plain and simple. If our hearts are surrendered to GOD then our hearts are pure and we will see the truth, but if we are opposed to GOD or unsettled in our decision to obey, the devil will exploit that to create confusion. The devil will often try to cloud matters with campaigns of misinformation and lies. The devil will also employ campaigns of fear to incite panic towards stampedes of irrational thoughts and beliefs to cause truth and love to be trampled underfoot.
The problem with the world is a lack of knowledge. As we continue to publish the gospel of truth in the context of current day, there is hope for those still in the world. A problem I encounter often with confessing Christians is a lack of repentance from sin due to a love of this present world. Christ sees it as adultery, and it will bring dire consequences if the Church will not repent.
“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. (Revelations 2:1-5 NKJV)
I believe the first love is a love for truth, and the first works are the works of repentance driven by a zeal for truth. This process keeps us moving toward GOD and driving us away from that which is false. I struggled with this at first, as I read the beginning of this address to the church of Ephesus, they looked like such a strong congregation, but it is similar to many Christian organizations today that are busy doing a lot of good things for the kingdom yet in their midst are still things yet to be acknowledged and repented of. Failing to confront error and falsehoods for the sake of avoiding division is like ignoring the presence of cancer that has come to consume the whole body. It is better to part with the root of the division and trust GOD to heal the body than to conceal it and let the whole body be destroyed. When we are graced with the light of truth, it is given for us to do the work which is only possible while the illumination is present. There is a darkness which comes afterwards where nothing good can be achieved.
35 Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. (John 12:35 NKJV)
Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” GOD is truth and light, to continue abiding in truth and light we must keep our hearts pure. This means our affections must remain with GOD and the things that pertain to His kingdom. Satan will always come offering us wealth, power, and pleasures to seduce us away from the acknowledgement of truth. Truth is acknowledged through obedience, which is submission to truth. We are responsible for what we know, don’t let anyone beguile you with empty promises or meaningless words. The apostacy or falling away of the church is what happens when people are lured away from obedience to GOD to allegiance with this world in the pursuit of the pleasures of carnal living.
6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. (Ephesians 5:6-11 KJV)
If we are not willing to address and reprove the works of darkness when we see them in our fellowship of believers or the church abroad, then we are complicit with the contamination of the body of Christ and partly responsible for His name being evil spoken of. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have been sharing the gospel with someone needing salvation and they have given me accounts of how the unfaithful Christians have failed to represent truth and righteousness, or how the church has seldom collectively denounced the unrighteousness of errant public figures or oppressive states associated with Christianity. Sometimes it’s not pretty but remember, Christ says He came not to bring peace but a sword. Sometimes to facilitate unity there must be some division. When lines are blurred it is difficult to know where people stand. Separating light from darkness creates the contrast needed to make lines and definitions clear. Light and darkness both exist in the earth. The light is called morning and the darkness is called night. To tell the time people must be able to distinguish between light and darkness. As Christians, we are called to guard the purity of the light.