by Roland W. Keith
All of us who have been made alive with Christ, having received salvation through Him, are members of the fellowship of believers known as the church or the kingdom of God. It is a unique assembly of people, where all are made equal in the truest sense— no matter what our achievements are failings in life we share in the blessings made available by the grace of God here on this earth, and more so when we are one day seated with Christ in His heavenly abode (Ephesians 2:4-7). As Paul wrote the Galatians: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:27-29).
A promise has been made by One who cannot tell a lie and can (and will) deliver on all His plans. In I Corinthians 1:9-10 we read, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” We are called to a single communion and should therefore set aside all differences and act in one accord, in obedience to the will of the One Who has brought us together. As Peter noted each of us is like a living stone, being built up together upon the chief cornerstone, which is Jesus Christ, as a spiritual house. More than that, he tells us that we are, no matter what our earthly heritage, a single race of people made into a holy nation by God. In this world we are no more than sojourners and exiles awaiting our passage home (I Peter 2:4-12). As such we look to the horizon for a land yet unseen, trusting that it is there, with a safe harbor to receive us when we depart this life.
Jesus once prayed not only for those who had met and accepted Him as Messiah, but for all those of all generations who, through the word, would come to Him for salvation (John 17:20). He asked that we would all be as one with one another and would come together in the Father and the Son. There are to be no factions, or separateness of thought or understanding in the essentials of Christianity. There is but one foundation (I Corinthians 3:1-11), and as Paul told the Ephesians, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift (Ephesians 4:4-7). We are to be one in the faith because there is but one faith, we are to be one in the Lord because there is only one Lord, we are to be members of one body because Christ established only one kingdom. And, within that kingdom we are to follow the example of our King. As His disciples we are to serve not only Him, but each other and the world (John 13: 13-17).
We may not all be (nor could we be) members of the same congregation, but we are still members of the same church and should be able to recognize one another by our actions (Mark 9:38-42), accepting those who are teaching and acting in accordance to God’s truth with the right hand of fellowship. However, we must be discerning. Many may claim to be of the light, while walking in the darkness still; our fellowship must be reserved for those who are truly in the light (I John 1:5-7; 2:9-11). Christ once said, “For the one who is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40), however, He also taught, “Whoever is not with Me is against Me, and whoever does not gather with Me scatters” (Matthew 12:30). As Christians we must be able to recognize the difference.
Many in the world distinguish between themselves and others according to race, creed and color, or national origin, or education, or social status, etc. Christians do not. As Paul noted, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:14-22).
All differences between Jew and Gentile, slave and free, man and woman (Galatians 3:27-29), and we might add rich and poor are of no account. We are one body in Christ, as Paul wrote, “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as He chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (I Corinthians 12:18-27).
We all have different parts to play, but there should be no division among us. God sees each of us as essential members of the body He has created, therefore we should seek a mind of unity and reconciliation (I Peter 3:8-9). How often have we seen discord among members of a family? It is all too common. However, Jesus taught that to be a member of His family we have to rise above the common motivations and divisions of a worldly family to be something different. Matthew recorded this observation of Jesus’, “While He was still speaking to the people, behold, His mother and His brothers stood outside, asking to speak to Him. But He replied to the man who told Him, "Who is My mother, and who are My brothers?" And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, "Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:46-50).
It is difficult to imagine the feeling of hearing Jesus say, “Welcome to paradise, My brother!” However, if we are faithful adherents to God’s word one day we will be welcomed to heaven by our Lord. For now the Bible tells us how to treat each other as Christian brothers and sisters, as well as how we are to treat the world. There is no mystery involved in how we are to live our lives while we are here upon this earth. Can we always live in peace? No. But we are to be at peace in the body of Christ (I Thessalonians 5:13), and in as much as it is within our power to be at peace with all men (Romans 12:18; Hebrews 12:14). As David once wrote, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore” (Psalm 113:1-3). If we want the peace of heaven, we should seek peace on earth. We may not be able to achieve it, but it must be our goal.
As members of the fellowship of believers our concern is the world, and most particularly the body of Christ. What do we do on a daily basis to advance the cause of God’s kingdom? What do we do to protect our fellow brothers and sisters within it? Moreover, how often do we actually fellowship together? It is an obvious thing to state that “Unity comes from being united,” but it seems like people need to be reminded of that from time-to-time. One more thing comes to mind as we approach Thanksgiving Day, how often do we give thanks for the fellowship we share in Christ, knowing that every time we come together, we have a special guest: “For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20).
Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you have a great day of fellowship!
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.