When I speak with people about church, they always ask the denomination. Then I say, “Oh it’s non-denominational.” It’s an interesting phrase. There’s different denominations (for example Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist). Then there’s non-denominational. Those are the churches that claim to not be affiliated with any of the known denominations. After the Early Church that you read about in Acts, things started to break apart. As time continued, groups were formed from other groups. Some churches have so many different divisions in their names, it becomes a tongue twister.
The denominations all came about from a difference of beliefs. This still happens today, hence the reason we have tons of church plants and longer than life names. The reason for the differences of beliefs, and at times, disunity of the church, is because we are a broken people. The church is filled with sinners, many sinners who are saved by grace alone. But we aren’t perfect. Some of us are proud, lazy, quick to speak, discontent, disorganized, agenda focused, bossy, or fable telling folks. We aren’t perfect, so it’s hard for us to all live together in harmony.
Nonetheless, the Bible speaks a lot about unity or harmony. Yes, that’s the vision God has for His Church. The capital “C” Church is the universal church. Broken down, this is all of the denominations and non-denominations. Together, as the big C, we need to be united. Remember, the Church is the body of Christ. The Church is people, not buildings. As the big C, we must remember Who we worship, Who we follow, Who is the Head of the Body. Even so, all of the little C’s need to also be united as separate bodies.
This seems like an impossible task. People can rarely get along. There are bound to be disagreements. Yes. Very true. But with God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Remember the reason for the Church. Keep running the race. The Spirit will unite us if we allow ourselves to be led (Ephesians 4:3). Don’t be proud. Don’t think you know it all. Humble yourself and seek the best for others (1 Corinthians 10:24). Love. It’s the bond of perfect unity (see Colossians 3:14). Live in harmony.
“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” – Romans 12:16 [NLT]
Being united means being joined together. Being united means that you share a common purpose. Again and again the Bible speaks of unity. We are to be united as brothers and sisters. We are to have unity in the church. We are to have unity in our families. We also are to be united with Christ. We cannot have any other true unity without having union with Christ.
The Bible says first we must receive Christ. Once we receive Jesus, then we are to walk with Him. The Apostle Paul writes often of walking with Christ. We are to continue the race. We are to press forward with Him. To the Colossians, he said they should regulate their lives so that they could live in this union with Jesus, even so much that we conform to Him.
Being united with Christ is not a difficult thing. Sadly people complicate this union. It is a simple union. A perfect union. A union like no other. It requires a heart for Jesus. It demands surrender. But it is simple and it is satisfying.
As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord, [so] walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. – Colossians 2:6 [AMP]
When you are walking with someone, you usually try to keep in step with the person. I often will pass a group of walkers in the morning. The group of people is always walking in step. There might be two rows of people, but each one is keeping step so as to stay together, to walk together. Their speed. Their distance. Everything is in sync.
In the end of letter to the churches of Galatia, Paul writes to “keep in step with the Spirit.” In this letter, Paul again and again tells the people to get back in step. From the start of the letter, we can tell that the people have wandered. Paul simply addresses the people as “to the churches in Galatia” (1:2). There is no “holy people” or “saints” as with other letters. Verse 6 notes that the people were turning away from Christ. They were very much out of step.
Paul reminds us of the freedom we have in Christ. He also reminds us that this freedom we have should not be used “to indulge the flesh” (5:13). We need to keep in step with the Spirit. How can we do that? We need to be crucified with Christ. If we belong to Christ, we should have “crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (v. 24). Let us keep in step with the Spirit. We can only do that with the Spirit.
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” – Galatians 5:25 [NIV]
A singleness of heart . An united heart. An undivided heart. A fixed heart. A heart for God. A single purpose. A tender, responsive heart. An obedient heart. A heart sensitive to God (ISV, GW, NLT, NIV).
God promised this heart to His people. For so long the people were divided. For so long they were sometimes following Him and other times following other gods. There was no true repentance because of their stony hearts.
God has given us the opportunity to be rid of our stony heart and have a heart that is sensitive to Him, a heart that brings us to our knees, that repents, that desires to do the will of God, and that seeks Him and Him alone. If you want God to change your heart and give you His Spirit, ask and be ready to receive.
“And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart.” – Ezekiel 11:19 [NLT]