One Body, Many Parts
When we first moved out to Utah, people would often ask why we moved. “Work,” I would say. This usually led to them asking what I did for work. “I’m a pastor at a church in West Jordan,” I responded. About 99% of the time this would lead to more questions. This alone made Utah unique, because elsewhere in the U.S. most people will run for the exits if they find out they are talking to a pastor!
In these conversations people would often speak of the “Presbyterian Religion” or the “Baptist Religion,” or some other religion. Other than thinking it was an odd way to speak, I didn’t catch the significance of this. But I later realized that many people saw all these denominations as equally separate, so that the distance between the Baptist faith and the Presbyterian faith was about the same distance as the distance between the Presbyterian Faith and the LDS Faith.
While most Bible-believing Christians would agree that we are all one in Christ. We also, in our actions and thoughts, can ignore this unity God has given us. We can be jealous of other churches when they succeed. We can hold onto what we have instead of giving it to others. We can fail to partner with other churches because we are not sure how it would help us out. We can act like we are alone out here.
But notice how the Apostle Paul speaks about the church:
●1 Corinthians 12:13: “ For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
●1 Corinthians 12:26: “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
●Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
●Ephesians 4:3-6: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
Paul is clear that we are all one. Why? Because there is only one Jesus, and therefore one body.
Have you ever wondered why the baptismal formula is very simple? “I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” It doesn’t get into much doctrine, but is a simple statement. These words given by Jesus almost seem to anticipate that there would be various interpretations of Scripture that would arise throughout history. That is one reason we see various denominations today. It was almost like by giving us the baptismal formula that expresses the absolute basics of the Christian faith, Jesus is reminding us that though some non-essential doctrines may differ, we are united in our belief of Father, Son and Spirit. We were baptized into one body. Though we may not agree about every little detail, it doesn’t mean we are not united to one another. The unity we have comes from God, through Jesus, and is applied by the Spirit.
How can we better show the unity we have with other believers? I’d encourage you to be thinking about this. To help us, our missions team decided that the theme for our missions conference this year will be about our unity in Christ. Our speaker will talk about this theme and get us thinking about how we can show our unity in Christ. We will also hear from the missionaries we support. We do this because we are all part of the same body. Their successes are our successes, and their struggles are our struggles. We are united in Christ.
What ideas do you have for showing our unity? I’ve often thought it would be really cool to invite all the other PCA churches, or even various other churches in the valley for a combined worship service. There is something very powerful about when God’s people gather and pack out a room while praising him! What are your thoughts and ideas? I’d love to hear from you!