Get Rid of the Walls
Mzuzu, Africa 1996
In the world that we live in, in almost every country, the body of Jesus is broken into many parts. There are many reasons why the Body of Jesus is so badly broken. Sometimes it’s because of the pride and the ambition of certain men. Sometimes it’s because teachings are very different, and people divide over teachings. Many times the body of Jesus divides because of personality problems, where people bang against each other and then go apart.
It is our obligation and duty to Jesus to get rid of the walls and the barriers. Jesus wants the Body of Christ to be ONE all around the world. There are some things that need to change in order for this to happen, though. Our selfishness and pride must be put away. We must come together in order to understand Jesus’ teachings—together, not apart. We must all be soft and humble to learn from each other.
One of the things that divide Jesus’ body into many parts is the desire of men to put names on churches. When we look at the Bible only, we actually see that the true Church never had any name, really. There is no “Baptist church” in the Bible, neither “Apostolic” nor “Nazarene church” there either. There is no “Mennonite” or “Charismatic.” There is only the Body of Jesus.
When you read about the Churches in the Bible, they are known by many names. But these are descriptions, not titles. A church might be called “the church of God in Corinth.” It might be called “the firstborn ones.” It is the same thing. It might be called the “elect ones,” or the “chosen ones.” It is the same as church of God in Corinth. All of these names are descriptions of who they were, not a title that they wore. For example, if I were to say, “Brother Henry,” that could be a title. If I were to say “Henry, my dear brother,” that is a description, and not a title. The churches in the Bible are called by many descriptions. But they are never called by a title. Not once in the Bible is the Church called by a title. “Baptist Church” is a title of a denomination; “brothers in Christ” is a description. “Baptist” is a title. This is one of the things that divide us into pieces. Because if you have a title that is different from my title, that makes us different.
Is there still power in the Blood? Do we have to divide over names? Do you need a name other than Jesus’ name? There is no other name in heaven or on earth by which men can be saved. We don’t need to be “Baptists” nor “Mennonites”, neither “Apostolic” nor “Seventh Day Adventist.” We need to be lovers of Jesus and lovers of each other. That’s all. There IS power in the Blood, and nothing should divide us from one another. If there is a division between you and me, it should only be because one of us doesn’t want to love and obey Jesus. That would make us separate. But that’s the only thing that should make us separate from our brothers. If you have a title of “Baptist” and I’m a “Seventh Day Adventist,” then we have a division between us that makes Jesus sad. If we live our lives together and care for each other without any titles of “Baptist” or “Seventh Day Adventist,” then we can together learn to love and obey Jesus. But if we have different titles, we can’t be TOGETHER.
What is the Name of Your Church?
For our dear Jesus’ sake, we must not have barriers. The way Paul said it was, “A curse be on everyone that does not love the Lord.” There should be no other curses. We must get rid of the walls, the barriers, and the titles. So if there is a church in your town, and there is power in the Blood, then we can be Christians together without having a name. The church we are a part of has been there for over ten years and we have never had a name, truly. When someone asks us, “What is the name of your church?”, we say, “We love Jesus.” If they are a Baptist, then there are no walls. They don’t think of me as the competition, and I invite them to just love Jesus too, with no titles. When someone asks one of our children, “What ‘church’ do you go to?”, they don’t know how to answer that except perhaps with, “Everyone I know loves Jesus.” If someone asks, “What ‘church’ do you attend?”, our children just say, “What do you mean?” They are part of Church every day. They don’t attend “church.” We are the church. And the children know this in their hearts, even when they are very young.
It is very important that we not have titles in our lives. It needs to begin with you and the lives that you reach out to in the religious world. Beg them to please not have walls or barriers. If there is still power in the Blood, we must not have walls. Having a name that is not in the Bible creates walls. Some people say, “But our name is in the Bible. Our ‘church’ is called the ‘Church of God’, and the Bible says that the Church in Corinth is called the ‘Church of God.’ So, we have a name that is in the Bible.” That’s not good thinking because Paul did not call the Church by a title. What he said was, “This is the Church that belongs to God.” It was not “The Church of God in Corinth” but rather God’s people who live in the city of Corinth. It was a description and not a title, and he also called that same group of people by two or three other names. Because it’s a description, there are many names for the Church. But when we make for ourselves one name and become that name, we have trampled on the blood of Christ because we have made walls between us and other people that love Jesus. If you are willing, the best answer when someone asks you, “What is the name of your ‘church’,” is to say, “I love Jesus. Do you?” That is the best answer. Then there are no barriers except whether or not they love Jesus. This is God’s way and the way of the Bible. We are not separated by names. As the apostle said, “Little children, love one another.” This is the thing that we do. We take pride not in our “church,” but in our husband, Jesus. Amen?
Someone I know was talking to a “pastor.” The pastor was very shocked when this person told him that they were the Church. The pastor had only thought of “church” as something that you go to on Sunday morning in a building. So when someone asks you what “church” you are a part of, you can ask God to give you wisdom for how to answer the question. There are hundreds of different answers. As you read the New Testament, you see that the believers could have answered that question hundreds of different ways too, because they had no title. If you ask God for wisdom for how to answer the question, God can show you what to say. But if you have a title and they ask you, “What ‘church’ are you a part of?” you only have one answer—the title. Now if you have no title, you can help draw them closer to Jesus by explaining to them that Jesus is alive and His Body is the Church. It’s not something you go to, it’s something you are. It’s a Family, not an organization. You can say all of these things when someone asks what “church” you are a part of—unless you have a title, because then they won’t believe you. They will think you are just like everyone else that goes to a building, except that maybe you believe different things than they do. But if you have no name, as the Churches in the Bible had no one particular name, then when they ask the name of your “church,” you can tell them about the wonderful Family and Body of Jesus, and His Life living in His people.
“Statements of Faith”—Another Barrier
One reason there are denominations is men’s pride. Another reason is different creeds, different “statements of faith”. When the “pastor” and the other person I told you about earlier began to speak together, the “pastor” did not know that person’s “statement of faith.” If that person and some other brothers got to know that man better, they would begin to talk about different things, out of their relationship. They might talk about the virgin birth of Jesus, about the death and resurrection of Jesus, about the fact that He is coming again for His People. They would begin to talk about what it means to be a Christian—that unless you lose your life for Jesus you cannot find it, and unless you take up your cross you cannot be His disciple. Out of their relationship, they would begin to work out what their “statement of faith” is.
Do you have a wife and children? What is your “statement of faith” for your family? There are things that are important to your family, but you don’t have a statement of faith for your family. In a sense you do, but not really; you would not put it up on the wall, but it’s in your heart, and it’s in your children’s hearts because you have taught them. If I came and lived in your home, you would not have to tell me your “statement of faith.” I would see it on your face. I would see it in how you treat your wife and children. I would see it in how hard you work, and at your dinner table, and when I find you on your knees in prayer in the corner. You wouldn’t put it on your wall, but you do have it.
When the Church is a Family, it is the same as that. We don’t have a creed that we put on the wall, but when you get to know us, you see it in our hearts. If someone came to be with our Family, our Church (which has hundreds of people), and they did not believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, that He is the son of God and that the blood of Christ is what saves us from our sins, we would not hand them a statement of faith, because we are a Family and don’t have one. Just like your family doesn’t have one. But because we really do have one in our hearts, just as your family does, it wouldn’t be very long before we were talking about important things.
The problem with making out a “statement of faith” and putting it on the wall is the same as having a name for a church. It builds walls and barriers between people. If a person comes to me and says, “Are you a Baptist?” and I say, “Yes, I’m a Baptist,” he thinks he knows me. But he really doesn’t; all he knows are things about Baptists, and now he assumes that he knows me. However, if I’m just a Christian with no title, then he is not afraid of me since he doesn’t think that he knows me yet. Now he has to talk to me to find out who I really am, because I’m not hiding behind the title of “Baptist”; he can talk to me or ask me about specific things—like the Blood of Jesus, and I can tell him what I believe about it. If I’m wrong, maybe he can help me change. But if I’m a Baptist, he has already said, “Goodbye.” When we don’t have barriers, then we can have relationships where we can help each other.
Loving People, but Hating Mixture
While the Church in the Bible doesn’t have a dividing name to distinguish it from other Christians in a city, there is such a thing as a local Church. I say that because it is important that we have close relationships with each other. In the United States there are perhaps three kinds of situations within the Christian world. One is the kind that’s a part of the denominations with the titles. There are good people in those denominations as well as not so good people. Then there are people that have come out of denominations but haven’t given their lives away to other believers, so they are separate. They love Jesus and believe in truth, but they need people every day in their lives. The scriptures say to encourage one another daily, as long as it called today. And, if we won’t encourage each other daily, then we become hard in heart and self-deceived (Heb. 3:12-13).
Then there are others that are joined together every day in life. They are not part of the denominations, but they love the people in the denominations. They are devoted to each other every day and they are a Church. They are not wandering around aimlessly. They are what the Bible calls “joined and knit together by every supporting ligament.” When one part suffers, they all suffer. When one part is blessed, they all rejoice. They rise up and sit down and walk along together. It is a Church, but without a name and building, nor anything to attend; its members are inside of each other’s lives, loving each other every day.
So, there are those three kinds of situations. Most people go through the first situation at some point. Most of us became exposed to Jesus by the denominations, and so some good things have come from them. Some people, because their consciences are soft, see things that they can’t live with in the denominations. Jesus said that He vomits lukewarmness out of His mouth. In some denominations there are some hot people and some cold people. When you mix hot and cold, what do you get? You get lukewarm. So, because Jesus gets sick with lukewarm, a person who thinks like Jesus is going to have a hard time with a situation where there is mixture. We can only be comfortable with mixture if we are not connected to Jesus, because He does not love mixture. So that leaves us with a great problem. We love the people, we want to help and serve, and we need them too. But there is mixture, and we don’t know what to do. Some people have had to leave that situation. They were either kicked out, or they sadly left and are now by themselves. We would encourage them to quickly get involved every day with other good believers and to not stay separate very long. We do need to pray very much for the denominations and some of the very special people that are there, but the walls must come down and the lukewarmness must stop. The scriptures say to get the leaven out of the batch. This is our goal—to help get the leaven out of the batch.