Christians often talk about how God has spoken to them.
I certainly believe that God speaks to us. Preeminently this is through the Bible, God’s written word, but he also speaks in other ways, through other people, circumstances, an inner voice, dreams, even on occasion literally through a voice speaking etc. But we have to be careful when we talk about God speaking to us as sometimes what we believe is God speaking could just be our own preferences coming through, or our misinterpretation of circumstances etc. With this caveat, if God has been speaking to me in recent years, other than in the generally through the Bible sense, then it has probably been mostly on the theme of ‘Christian unity’.
Christians are very good at dividing into factions, arguing about one thing or other, starting a new church, having internal divisions and so forth. There are Anglicans, Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Pentecostals, Independents …, the list could go on much longer. In the village where I live there are at least six separate church congregations which meet each week (or at least they did until Covid-19 came along!), none of them really big. Other churches / congregations have also come and gone in the past. Why don’t we all just meet together as one big ‘United’ church?
For much of my Christian life I have been involved in churches which have been somewhat wary of working with other Christians – and with some good reasons. Christians from different churches and backgrounds do often seem to believe quite different things. At the very least their emphases can be very different. We may all follow Jesus, go to church, pray, believe it matters how we live, etc. But it doesn’t take much digging to find significant differences of opinion underneath this surface. How can we work with others when we look at things so differently. Or when the things that we want to do together as Christians are so different than what others want to do. Christians from different backgrounds working together in the past has not always ended so well. From my own experience, even working with Christians who have quite similar views to my own, can still be very difficult – what hope when we have much bigger differences of opinion! However the Bible has a lot to say about Christians being together, and I have been increasingly convinced that we can’t just ignore this or simply pay lip service to it.
It would certainly make us stand out more in a world that is so polarized and divided itself.
So this blog is the first of a planned mini series looking at the topic of ‘Christian togetherness’. I hope to cover topics such as:
- Why do I believe God has been speaking to me about this?
- What does the Bible have to say on Christians working together?
- What about the arguments of those that are more cautious about working with other churches?
- Does it really matter – and if so why?
- What should Christian togetherness actually look like in practice, especially given the divided state of the church at present.
I’m sure the series will change and evolve as it continues – please let me know especially if you have particular topics you think I should look at. And please come back again for the next in the series!