It was the great desire of the Lord Jesus, before His crucifixion, that His disciples were one. That was why He prayed for them. The prayer was answered. The Acts of the Apostles has the record, how the early believers lived and did many things ‘in one accord’. The result was great, resulting in their rapid growth in number. In the Upper Room, they were only 120, but after the healing of the lame man, 3000 people joined them. 5000 also joined after Peter’s fiery message. Their number grew until they become ‘multitude’ and there was upsurge of miracles and healings of the sick.
Unity of God’s people is still the desire of the Lord Jesus, the Owner of the Church. Is it also the desire of our Church leaders today? Most of the time, there is personality conflict in the hierarchy of some churches, each minister, giving the impression that he is the one that matters. If God reveals to a prominent Pastor that He will restore the sight of a blind brother in the church and it is a Sunday he will not be in the church, he may likely plead for its postponement to the Sunday he will be available. It is unfortunate that the issue is not then, God healing His people, but about the personality that will be involved. Is this true of your church? Then pray.
As there may not be true unity among the church leaders in the same church, it is even worse in their relationship with other denominations. How do we, born-again Christians, react when we hear that the General Overseer or a Minister of another Church is caught in armed robbery or has committed adultery or any sin? Do we weep about it or do we laugh, feeling unconcerned since he is not from our church? Do we criticize his church, accusing them of not teaching the whole counsel of God, hence the sin committed? For Judas to have sold the Lord Jesus and even committed suicide, did the Lord not preach well to His disciples? How does Jesus feel, when a Christian, irrespective of his denomination, commits sin? If it will make Him to weep, should we behave differently?
If you ask any General Overseer about the unity of all the churches, he may admit readily that they are one. You may not argue with him, but ask him why his church took possession of the property, which he knew that another church denomination was occupying, he may tell you that it was the Estate agent that drove them away because of their unpaid rent. Ask him why he did not pay the rent for them. “Would Apostle Paul take over a property occupied by Apostle Peter because he could not pay the rent?” You can ask him. If it is Jesus, Who owns the different denominations and not the General Overseers, will anything be wrong, if a church that is buoyant financially pays sometimes, the salary of a struggling denomination? Will Jesus not do that?
The hidden truth is that there is subtle competition for members among the churches, each trying to promote itself instead of promoting Jesus. Each church tries to prove to the general public that it offers what the other churches cannot. That can only be true, when they are referring to some churches that do not preach the Gospel. We may not expect much from them, but we have now many living churches. In Lagos alone in the eighties, during Shambark’s Crusade, there were about 105 churches of different denominations that were there at Race Course. That number has multiplied now, churches that believe and teach the core message of the Bible. Their difference is only on doctrinal emphasis. Unity is still required. Helping hand is what the prayer houses need and not criticism. Things are even changing with them today.
Many years ago, I encouraged the pastors of the various denominations in my town to be having a monthly meeting, which would be holding from one denomination to another. The hosting branch would serve any light refreshment, such as tea or soft drinks. It was meant to foster unity among them. They were to be disciplining erring church members in the community, irrespective of their church affiliation. They were to be holding joint crusades from time to time. Their focus was to be on the Lord Jesus and not on their church affiliation and unnecessary stressing of their doctrines.
There are thousands of people that do not go to church, who can be reached, instead of fighting for the members that are already in the church. What interests God is not the number of born-again members in other churches you bring to your church. It is the number of unchurched people and unbelievers you bring to any Christian Church, whether yours or not, so that they will hear the gospel message and repent.
Unity is God’s condition to answer our prayers. “If two of you shall agree concerning anything you shall ask, it will be given to you,” He states in Matt. 18:19. Agreement involves knowledge of what the other person is doing, and agreeing with it. Two churches are often neighbours. If one of them is praying for rain, so as to get water to mould their blocks, while the other church is praying for bright weather, for them to lay the foundation of their new building, which prayer will God answer? Agreement between them will cause the miraculous, and each of them will have its need met.
My body has different parts, and each is unique in performing specified functions. To take care of me properly, all of them must work in unity. My stomach will grumble rightly, when my entire body, not it alone, is starved of food. It cannot do more than that. My eyes will see where food can be bought. It is the responsibility of my legs to carry my body to the place. My mouth will negotiate the price and my hands will collect the food, while my legs will bring me back home. There, my right hand will put the food inside my mouth. There will be trouble if my mouth, working with its various siblings, refuses to chew or swallow the food. If my stomach is on strike or is angry with its siblings, it may refuse to digest the food. The consequence may be death of the entire body, including it. That brings home, the prayer of our Lord Jesus, that all His children should be one and work in unity.
During the rebellion of human beings, which prompted their building of the Tower of Babel, God said that only disunity could stop them. That, He did, by giving them a strange language. It shows the unlimited extent we will achieve anything if we are united. The devil knows this, and this is why he makes us to be stressing irrelevances that affect our unity. In that situation, we major in the minor. May God help His Church, irrespective of race and doctrine, to respond to the prayer of our Lord Jesus for unity!
For further comment, Please contact: Osondu Anyalechi: 0802 3002-471; [email protected]