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Over 3 years ago, God started to speak to me deeply on the great sin of division, slander, and gossip in the body of Christ. God started to have me in situations where great hurt was being done and I saw first hand the way the enemy used these tactics to destroy and hurt the testimony of Jesus Christ in others lives. One of many devotional articles I wrote during that time was called: God's Church Is Sacred In This Earth. The premise of the devotion was a warning that when we speak against the body of Christ we speak against God's Sacred Church of whom we are all a part. Recently, God spoke to Francis Chan on that exact same verse (1 Corinthians 3:17) to give us a loving warning to the body of Christ against division. Here is a recent statement Francis made in regards to people who divide and leave Church fellowship: "There is this terrifying verse in 1 Timothy where Paul talked about two men who rejected the faith. Paul said that he had handed them over to Satan, by which he meant that he’d put them outside of the church (1:20). Basically, these men were actively opposing the works of God, so rather than pretending everything was fine, Paul removed them from the safety and blessings of the fellowship of believers. He was hoping that the misery of being separated from the church would lead them to repent. Are you catching the weight of this? Paul equated removal from the church with being handed over to Satan! It is crazy to me that we live in a time when people are voluntarily doing this to themselves! No church has placed them outside of the fellowship; instead, they’ve handed themselves over to Satan!" What a sobering thought that those in our day in North America being critical of so much that is called Christian are doing to themselves what Paul the Apostle had to recommend Timothy to do to others as a last resort to have them repent of their pride and sins. We are living in a day where we are judging others and not ourselves. We are finding it easy to be critical of everything but our own sins we ourselves struggle with. Francis again shares on how God wants to send real unity to the body of Christ: "Real love, unity and blessing were supposed to be found in the church. Many are having a hard time finding that, so they’re setting off on their own. Jesus said that the world would see the supernatural unity and love we share in the church and believe in Him through that. But we’re not experiencing it. We’ve given up on it. We no longer believe it is possible." Perhaps we can start to change our minds and start looking towards others with seeing their good and not bad, speaking blessings over others and not curses. Remember we are fitted together in a temple of God with all saints of all ages. And Francis gives the example of someone taking a sledgehammer to this temple. What a fearful thing to do, of course we would depart from such an individual for fear of what God Himself would do to him. As the Scripture says, "Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them" (Titus 3:10). You can watch the full video message by Francis Chan, "Are You Destroying The Church" where he gives this loving warning against division in the Church: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJph3Z6cfxM
greggordon posted a topic in God, Church & FaithI in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. – John 17:23 Many have marvelled over this priestly prayer that our Lord uttered. It is the longest recorded prayer that Jesus left us with and it shows the very heart of God in it. If you could think of all the things that could be prayed during the last days of Jesus being on this earth we could think of many things. Yet our Lord had in his heart this one important topic: Unity. And not just unity in general but ‘complete unity’ a unity that is perfect and full. The prayer is not for boldness or perfect speech and unction but rather great unity. In the fanfare of excitement in certain christian circles we can be seeking power, outward displays and not realize that a unity with other brothers and sisters is the foundation for our witness to the world. Though false teachers were exposed such as Judas, yet our Lord’s call was for united purpose in being his Disciples and sharing the Good News. Our unity is not found in our preferences, styles or exact thinking but rather it is found in the person of the Godhead. Our knowing and partaking (2 Peter 1:4) of the Son of God is where our unity meets with other believers. We are formed together as one body, through one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). Seeking after unity should not been seen as compromise but a desire to share in the true heart of God for his Church. We do not unify with those who are practicing falsehood and sin but we should not shun unity with those who do not exactly think and act like our style of Church. God looks past much of the differences we look at and see’s the heart and worship in bodies of believers. Tertullian says, “We are a body knit together as such by a common religious profession, by unity of discipline, and by the bond of a common hope. We meet together as an assembly and congregation, that, offering up prayer to God as with united force.” Early believers were united by purpose, hope, godly disciplines, prayer and confession. In our day of individualism and striving to be unique and heard God’s people need to recapture the sense of unity of the Church where all are a part of its purpose and mission. When Jesus ascended he did not desire all the Apostles to start their own Churches and ideas but his prayer was for great unity that no matter what happened they would stay unified. When we lose the reverence for God and his working we easily break fellowship, create dis-unity and seek our own way s better. When we lose the fear of God we question godly ministers, ministries and Church works that have been established and blessed by God for many years. The spirit of independence questions everything and sets one up as the authority rather then submitting to authority. The way of unity with believers in the body of Christ is the way of submission, humility and christ-likeness. Hear our Lord’s prayer again for you today, he prays that you are unified with others in the body of Christ. See our Lord looking at you from the right hand of God, he accepts you, will you not accept others in the body of Christ. He gave His own life for you, will you not open yourself up to others and be unified as the Church?