But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And 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.' No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor... that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
As centuries passed beyond the death of Jesus, church leaders passed beyond the life of His Word--adding to It their own rules and practices. The body of Christ split, and the 'Great Schism' came in 1054: Eastern and Western churches literally 'excommunicated' each other. The next major division came in the 16th century with the Protestant Reformation.
For almost 2000 years, church cells split again and again--creating over 41,000 Christian denominations. But think about it: a baby begins its life as one single cell. For a full 30 minutes, it's one cell. Then it splits many times over, but the split of healthy cells is good.
On the other hand, cancer cells are not good. They reproduce more quickly than healthy cells. Even so, they're not malignant to the body--if good cells destroy them. That's the safeguard God designed.
So here's the big question: Within the body of Christ, are today's cells healthy, malignant or both? Because if the good cells don't recognize and eliminate the bad cells, cancer grows rapidly. How can we find them? 'By their fruit you will recognize them' (Matthew 7:16). What type of fruit?
One thing I know: It's not the size of a congregation that makes a church fruitful, because bad grows faster than good. We can judge the fruit of a church by the words and deeds of its leaders. 'For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks' (Luke 6:45). Once spoken, words become deeds.
Remember this Scripture: 'Six things the Lord hates, yes seven are an abomination to Him' (Proverbs 6:16).* Consider the first: 'A proud look.' Consider the last: 'One who sows discord among brethren.' Both of these hateful conditions spring from a focus on roles, ranks and positions.
For Christians, this near-sighted vision can cause long-term blindness; side effects include greed, jealousy, anger and strife. Within the body of Christ, they can be fatal. 'If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit' (Matthew 15:14).
To Be Continued...
*Proverbs 6:16-19 (NKJV)
'These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.'
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Roles, Ranks & Positions series.