Church, Separation in
The story has been told of a small church affiliated with an exclusive “splinter” denomination. The members had cut out some gold letters and fastened them on the wall in front of the church. The letters said: “Jesus Only.”
One day a gust of wind blew away the first three letters. The sign then read, more accurately: “Us Only.” ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
In Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, there are named two ladies who could not get along with each other, Euodia and Syntyche (or, as it has been rendered, Odious and Soontouchy). They obviously had trouble working together. Then and now, the church is too often described in this little jingle:
To dwell above with saints we love,
O that will sure be glory.
But to dwell below with saints we know,
Well, that’s another story!
── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
The church filled with strife may do well to be reminded of Lord Nelson at Trafalgar who, coming on deck and finding two British officers quarreling, whirled them about and—pointing to the ships of their adversary—exclaimed, “Gentlemen, there are your enemies!” ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
A visitor to a mental hospital was astonished to note that there were only three guards watching over a hundred dangerous inmates. He asked his guide, “Don’t you fear that these people will overpower the guards and escape?”
“No,” was the reply. “Lunatics never unite.” ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
For safety reasons, mountain climbers rope themselves together when climbing a mountain. That way, if one climber should slip and fall, he would not fall to his death. He would be held by the others until he could regain his footing.
The church ought to be like that. When one member slips and falls, the others should hold him up until he regains his footing. We are all roped together by the Holy Spirit. ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
A man asked his young son to break a bundle of sticks. He returned a little later to find the lad frustrated in the task. He had raised the bundle high and smashed it on his knee, but he only bruised his knee. He had set the bundle against a wall and stomped hard with his foot, but the bundle barely bent.
The father took the bundle from the child and united it. Then he began to break the sticks easily—one at a time.
So it is with the church: united we are strong, divided we can fail or be broken. ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
Many years ago, two students graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law. The highest ranking student in the class was a blind man named Overton, and when he received his honor, he insisted that half the credit should go to his friend, Kaspryzak. They had first met one another in school when the armless Kaspryzak had guided the blind Overton down a flight of stairs. This acquaintance ripened into friendship and a beautiful example of interdependence. The blind man carried the books that the armless man read aloud in their common study, and thus the deficiency of each individual was compensated for by the other’s ability. ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
If you fell and severely injured your wrist, it would swell up and become very painful. The rest of your body might feel so bad about it that it would sit up all might to keep it company!
That is what the body of Christ should do when one member is hurt. When one hurts, all hurt—and all should respond. ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
Two porcupines found themselves in a blizzard and tried to huddle together to keep warm. But because they were pricked by each other’s quills, they moved apart. Soon they wee shivering again and had to lie side by side once more for their own survival. They needed each other, even though they needled each other!
There are many “porcupine” Christians running around. They have their good points, but you can’t get near them because the bad points prick too hard. ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
Have you ever wondered what makes the difference between a spotlight and a laser beam? How can a medium-power laser burn through steel in a matter of seconds, while the most powerful spotlight can only make it warm? Both may have the same electrical power requirements. The difference is unity.
A laser can be simply described as a medium of excited molecules with mirrors at each end. Some of the excited molecules naturally decay into a less excited state. In the decay process they release a photon, a particle of light. It is here that the unique process of the laser begins. The photon moves along and “tickles” another molecule, inviting another photon to join him on his journey. Then these two photons “tickle” two more molecules and invite two more photons to join the parade. Soon there is a huge army of photons marching in step with each other. It is this unity that gives the laser its power. A spotlight may have just as many photons, but each is going its own independent way, occasionally interfering with other photons. As a result, much of its power is wasted and cannot be focused to do any useful work. However, the laser, because of its unity, is like an army marching in tight formation and is able to focus all its power on its objective. ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
In any flesh-and-bones body, there are a variety of cells. There are nerve cells, blood cells, muscle cells, and many others, each having a distinct function. The body operates smoothly, not because the cells get together and vote on what to do, but because each one does what it was designed to do. It is the function of the head to bring all these different functions together, so that the body operates effectively as each cell gives itself to the task of functioning according to its design.
Certainly the body would not operate properly if its cells chose to go their own way. Do you know what we call a rebellion of the cells of your stomach? We call it indigestion! A revolt of your brain cells is called insanity. Any time the cells in our body don’t operate properly, it means that the body is sick, that something is wrong with it.
Many of the problems in the church today are a result of our forgetting that the church is a body with a head, Jesus Christ. Instead we sometimes try to operate the church as an organization. As a result, the church has no more power than any other human organization at work in the world. ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
The story is told of a time when a little child in an African tribe wandered off into the tall jungle grass and could not be found, although the tribe searched all day. The next day the tribal members all held hands and walked through the grass together. This enabled them to find the child, but due to the cold night he had not survived. In her anguish and through tears, the mother cried, “If only we would have held hands sooner.”
It is not enough that we all share a common goal. We must all work together to accomplish it without hesitation. ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
As members of the body of Christ, we can be compared to pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece has protrusions and indentations. The protrusions represent our strengths (gifts, talents, abilities), and the indentations represent our weaknesses (faults, limitations, shortcomings, undeveloped areas). The beautiful thing is that the pieces complement one another and produce a beautiful whole.
Just as each piece of a puzzle is important, so each member of the body of Christ is important and can minister to the other members of the body.
Just as, when one piece is missing from the puzzle, its absence is very obvious and damages the picture, so also is the whole weakened when we are absent from the body of Christ.
Just as, when each piece of a puzzle is in place, any one piece is not conspicuous but blends in to form the whole picture, so it should be in the body of Christ. ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
The story is told that during the American Civil War, when the rival armies were encamped on the opposite banks of the Potomac River, the Union’s band played one of its patriotic tunes, and the Confederate musicians quickly struck up a melody dear to any Southerner’s heart.; Then one of the bands started to play “Home, Sweet Home.” The musical competition ceased, and the musicians from the other army joined in. Soon voices from both sides of the river could be heard singing, “There is no place like home.”
In a similar way, the church, in spite of its many divisions, is bound together by that one strong link—we are all going home, nd to the same home. We have a common destiny. ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
In 1829 Smithson, who never married, died and left his considerable fortune to a nephew. Rumor had it that the terms of Smithson’s will stipulated that his entire estate was to go to one recipient upon the nephew’s death. The English scientific community hoped that he had made sizable grants to their favorite institutions. But when the terms of the will were made public they were shocked!
Smithson had written: “Just
as England has rejected me, so have I rejected England.” During Smithson’s
Let us be careful of saying to some member of the body of Christ, “I have no need of you,” only to find that the same member could have met some of our greatest spiritual needs. ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
I want the whole Christ for my Savior, the whole Bible for my book, the whole Church for my fellowship, and the whole world for my mission field.
Calvin, who saw that the Devil's chief device was disunity and division and who preached that there should be friendly fellowship for all ministers of Christ, made a similar point in a letter to a trusted colleague: "Among Christians there ought to be so great a dislike of schism, as that they may always avoid it so fast as lies in their power. That there ought to prevail among them such a reverence for the ministry of the word and the sacraments that wherever they perceive these things to be, there they must consider the church to exist...nor need it be of any hindrance that some points of doctrine are not quite so pure, seeing that there is scarcely any church which has not retained some remnants of former ignorance."
Charles W. Colson, The Body, 1992, Word Publishing, p. 107-108.
In the Cambridge, Minn., Star: "Isanti County Commissioner Tom Pagel has 100-percent support from his family, not 10 percent, as was stated in last week's article on Pagel's announcement to seek re-election."
"To remain divided is sinful! Did not our Lord pray, that they may be one, even as we are one"? (John 17:22). A chorus of ecumenical voices keep harping the unity tune. What they are saying is, "Christians of all doctrinal shades and beliefs must come together in one visible organization, regardless... Unite, unite!" Such teaching is false, reckless and dangerous. Truth alone must determine our alignments. Truth comes before unity. Unity without truth is hazardous. Our Lord's prayer in John 17 must be read in its full context. Look at verse 17: "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth." Only those sanctified through the Word can be one in Christ. To teach otherwise is to betray the Gospel.
Charles H. Spurgeon, The Essence of Separation, quoted in The Berean Call, July, 1992, p. 4.
During World War II, Hitler commanded all religious groups to unite so that he could control them. Among the Brethren assemblies, half complied and half refused. Those who went along with the order had a much easier time. Those who did not, faced harsh persecution. In almost every family of those who resisted, someone died in a concentration camp.
When the war was over, feelings of bitterness ran deep between the groups and there was much tension. Finally they decided that the situation had to be healed. Leaders from each group met at a quiet retreat. For several days, each person spent time in prayer, examining his own heart in the light of Christ's commands. Then they came together. Francis Schaeffer, who told of the incident, asked a friend who was there, "What did you do then?" "We were just one," he replied. As they confessed their hostility and bitterness to God and yielded to His control, the Holy Spirit created a spirit of unity among them. Love filled their hearts and dissolved their hatred.
When love prevails among believers, especially in times of strong disagreement, it presents to the world an indisputable mark of a true follower of Jesus Christ.
Our Daily Bread, October 4, 1992.
In a Peanuts cartoon Lucy demanded that Linus change TV channels, threatening him with her fist if he didn't. "What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?" asks Linus.
"These five fingers," says Lucy. "Individually they're nothing but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold."
"Which channel do you want?" asks Linus. Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, "Why can't you guys get organized like that?"
There are two ways of being united -- one is by being frozen together, and the other is by being melted together. What Christians need is to be united in brotherly love, and then they may expect to have power.
Moody's Anecdotes, p. 53.
Tonto and the Lone Ranger were riding through a canyon together when all of a sudden both sides were filled with Native American warriors on horses, dressed for battle. The Lone Ranger turned to Tonto and asked, "What are we going to do?" Tonto replied, "What you mean 'we,' Whiteman?"
Edward Dobson, In Search of Unity, p. 20-27.
There can be union without unity: tie two cats together by their tails and throw them over a clothesline.
Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become 'unity' conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.
A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God.
Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look at what they can do when they stick together.
ONENESS OF BELIEVERS.
Believers are members of Christ’s body, hence members one of another. As illustrating this, we will take the word “together” as showing our oneness with Christ and one another.
Ⅰ. Oneness in death. “ Planted together in the likeness of His death” (Romans 6:5).
Ⅱ. Oneness in resurrection. “ Quickened……and raised up together (Eph.2:5,6).
Ⅲ. Oneness in position. “ Made us sit together in heavenly places” (Eph.2:6).
Ⅳ. Oneness in suffering and glory. “ If we suffer with Him……glorified together” (Rom.8:17).
Ⅴ. Oneness in by possession. “ Builded together……habitation of God” (Eph.2:22). Not only purchased and pardoned, but possessed by the Holy Spirit, who will fill us, as God of old fillen the tabernacle and Temple with His presence.
Ⅵ. Oneness in fitness. “ Fitly framed together” (Eph.2:21). As the covering of the tabernacle were coupled together, as the stones in Solomon’s Temple (each on was put in its won place), so each believer is first made fit, then fitly framed, then fitly framed together—thus fit to live and serve in the place he occupies.
Ⅶ. Oneness in place at the coming of Christ. “ Live together” (1. Thess.5:10); “ heirs together” (1.Peter 3:7); caught up together to meet Christ in the air (1. Thess.4:17). Different positions in glory, but all with Him.
Ⅷ. Oneness in fellowship. We read of the disciples who were on the way to Emmaus, that they “ talked together;” and “ how can two walk together except they are agreed?” These two were talking of the Lord, and He of whom they were conversing drew near and spoke to them; the secret of true fellowship one with another is communion with the Lord Himself.
Ⅸ. Oneness in sympathy. “ Comfort yourselves together” (1.Thessalonians 5:11).
Ⅹ. Oneness in prayer. “ Peter and John went up together into the Temple at the hour of prayer” (Acts 3:1). The secret of Judah’s victory over Ammon and Moab was, “that they gathered themselves together” to ask help of the Lord” (2. Chron.20:4).
Ⅺ. Oneness in work. Sower and reaper working and receiving the joy of service now, and at the great harvest together (John 4:36).
Ⅻ. Oneness in worship. “ They sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord” (Ezra 3:11).
XIII. Oneness in thought. “ Perfectly joined together in the same mind” (1.Cor.1:10).
XIV. Oneness in conflict. “ Children of Israel went out……gathered together as one man” (Judges 20:1).
XV. Oneness in love. “ Knit together in love.” (Col.2:2).
XVI. Oneness in labour. “Striving together for the faith of the Gospel” (Phil.1:27). In all the above Scriptures we see the union there is from God’s standpoint amongst all those who are His; and if we would have manifest unity among the Church of God, there must be—and it will only come in this way—the recognition of our oneness in Christ, hence our oneness one with the other.
Christians, remember there are many children in the family. They may call themselves by different names, but there is only one family—one Father; many members in the body , but only one house—one Head; many stones in the building, but only one Vine; many sheep in the flock, but only one flock—one Shepherd; many priests, but only one order—one High Priest; many crumbs, but only one Loaf; many citizens, but only one city.
── F.E. Marsh《Five Hundred Bible Readings》