Perhaps the chief tactic in Satan’s war against God, since the days of Adam and Eve, is division. He has attempted in numerous ways to divide couples, families, societies, countries, churches–you name it. A simple strategy, for sure; but he knows these people groups are rendered less strong when they are divided. And we men and women have proven more than easy targets for his malicious designs, time and again.
God has made His creatures with a very tender, endearing attribute: trust. We have this innate desire to trust or have faith in something or someone. This trust factor not only influences our capacity to trust God, it permeates all our relationships in life. Satan knows far too well how to use this trust feature to cause disruption and upheaval in the lives of as many people as he can. His tactics have worked well to interrupt and disrupt this inherent feeling of trust we have in each other, causing various levels of strife and unrest in his wake.
You may have noticed that God’s church seems to be particularly divided these days. Besides a myriad of denominations and sects to contend with, there are those within many churches, who raise the flag of reformation with “Stop your sinning, and mend your ways”; and then there are those who promote relationship with “Just believe; God accepts everyone”. Of course, there are elements of truth in both these statements. So, why are they proving so divisive? Why are people moving so far to the left and right of these banners?
We find ourselves labeling these factions as conservative or liberal, just like the secular/political world. Basically, “conservative” meaning those who want to preserve or save the traditions or old ways of doing things, and “liberal” as being free to accept new things, sometimes just because they’re new.
There must be another banner that would draw us together into one unit that would allow just the right mixture of old and new. The solution may be simpler than we’d expect. The apostles repeatedly called us to carry the banner of “Jesus Christ”. If our focus is solely on Him, then we won’t be looking at our own behavior to save us. And we won’t be looking to faith only to save us either. Isn’t God the One who saves us?
Therefore, our life of dedication to God and service to man has to be a combination of faith and works. And Jesus is the perfect One to project both external and internal faith characteristics, portraying them in the most perfect form imaginable. Because He is the embodiment of the most perfect Being ever!
Jesus incorporated all personality types, all character virtues, all spiritual gifts. As a matter of fact, He exhibited them in perfectly measured, balanced amounts. He, who loved mingling with the masses and healing their diseases, also craved His alone-time with God each day, as He sought privacy to pray in the quiet solitude of nature. He knew when and how to proactively confront the Pharisees and sinners, even chasing moneychangers out of the temple. But when it came time to stand before His accusers at a trial that ended in His cruel execution, He was perfectly content to remain silent. Why not use Jesus then as our standard, our banner–the One capable of drawing us all together as one?
The reason we, as individuals, aren’t endowed with perfectly balanced natures and characters may obviously be a result of the sin that has entered our world. But nevertheless, it serves a vital purpose. Together, we imperfect humans can couple our ragged, uneven edges with one another, resulting in one glorious image of Christ–like the pieces of a puzzle. This is surely why Jesus prayed for unity in the community of diverse believers He was beginning to assemble while on earth. Only by humbly joining ourselves, allowing our varied talents and gifts to mesh and blend, will we be able to portray to a broken world what God is really like.
When I’ve worked on puzzles in the past, I find it almost imperative to keep looking at the picture on the outside of the box to inform my mind where the pieces will most likely fit. In the same way, we must keep our eyes on Jesus, if we want the image of our church to truly reflect Him.
I’m going to step out on a limb here and suggest that The One Project we’ve been hearing about lately might just be that banner, or at least one possible manifestation of it. What can be wrong with focusing on Jesus only? One can nitpick and differ with who else might be following that banner, but if you are doing that, then you aren’t focusing on Jesus. On the other hand, if you find yourself promoting and defending the proponents of The One Project too aggressively, you could find yourself taking your eyes off Him as well.
So, I’m just going to encourage each of us to get back to Jesus, to follow His banner, in whatever way seems to work best for us. He is the Prince of Peace, so we mustn’t let Him be the missing piece of our church puzzle. If we lose “The Box”, we could be working on this peace puzzle for a long time.