Lately there has been something which increasingly grieves my heart, and I believe also grieves the Spirit of God. This is the growing lack of unity within the church.
Ephesians 4:13 says quite a mouthful on this subject;
"...until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ...".
"Unity of faith" and "the knowledge of the Son of God" say a great deal to me about what we are to believe. There are many different denominations, each with their own particular beliefs regarding one facet of Christ or another. But this verse (along with many more just like it) make it plain to me that the Bride will not be made up of denominations. She will not differ in opinions or beliefs regarding Christ. As this verse says, there will be one singular "faith" and one singular "knowledge of the Son of God". In the Bride, we will all believe the same things regarding what Jesus has done and what He will do, and we will all know the same things about Him. This level of unity leaves no room for divisions like denominations.
You see, the Truth is a man and His Name is Jesus. There cannot be multiple truths. Even if one denomination has it all correct (and I don't know that this is the case), the rest of us have at least something wrong. Some believe you must baptize children or they will go to hell if they die, others believe in grace until the age of accountability. Does the former have a wrong understanding of God, or does the latter not recognize the Law? Some believe you must punish yourself for your sins and pay penance for everything in life, others believe Jesus paid all on the cross and all else is dead works. Is the former stuck in legalism or does the latter oversimplify things? For instance, if Charismatic non-denominational (Evangelical) folks have it 100% right, imagine how far off the mark traditional Catholics are. If Baptists have it all right, how wrong are those same Evangelicals?
Am I being judgmental? Is this all semantics? Shouldn't we all just get along and accept that other believers have differing beliefs? "But, none of this is critical to salvation", I can hear you say. ...Or is it?
Matthew 7:23 says this;
"I never knew you; depart from me"
So I ask you this. At what point do all of our differences of opinion, wrong theologies and misunderstandings of Christ become an issue of "not knowing Him"? And that's the point, isn't it? God created us so we could get to know Him. When we messed all that up and put a barrier between us and God, Jesus came and died for us to let us get to know Him once again. This passage in Matthew makes it plainly clear as well that if we do not "know Him" we will not be welcomed into heaven.
So what are we to do? There is such an unimaginably diverse group of people calling themselves Christians these days with an even more diverse set of beliefs...How can we possibly even begin to know the Truth and begin to set aside man's religion and traditions in favor of worshipping in Spirit and in Truth? Well, it's the most simple thing - and the most difficult thing - we could ever do. We need to collectively decide that we are Christ-followers, adherent to the Word above all else, before we are anything else. Before we are men or women, before we are Americans or Mexicans, before we are white or black or red or brown, before we are Catholics or Protestants...Before anything else, we are children of God, and we seek only His Truth.
Then we pray, and we listen, carefully. Only then can God begin to clear away the dross of man's misunderstandings and allow His Spirit to begin to teach us all things. Only then can we quit destructive bickering over doctrines and theologies and begin constructive discussion regarding Biblical Truth. Most importantly, only then will we begin to know Christ more fully, more intimately, as we were created to do, and take those first steps towards being made in His Image; the Bride, unified and purified.