It is unfortunate that we have allowed our differences in understanding God’s word on certain issues to divide us, when Jesus accepts us warts and all. In the light of Jesus’ work at the cross, a Baptist and Congregationalist for example, should freely worship, fellowship and pray together. After all, we don’t have separate groupings around the throne of God. Love should cover the issues that divide, and if you believe something differently, then love is the best way to influence someone.
Having said that, wrongly dividing by denomination should at least serve to prick our consciences, that there is one (universal or call it what you like) church. You see, we would all agree that the Christian family living next door to us is part of Jesus’ Church (singular), even if they gather with another group of believers. Or, how about when hundreds come forward at an evangelistic campaign, repenting and believing, not yet part of any local congregation, have they not in that moment become part of Christ’s church? For practical reasons they may in the future meet with other believers separately, yet they will always remain part of Jesus’ one Church.
What of the trucker who is saved while listening to the gospel on the radio? It may take him a while to find a congregation. Is he not part of Christ’s church while not in a congregation? Also, many don’t like to meet in our congregations precisely because of all this controlling thinking. Are they not part of Christ’s church?
Unfortunately, wolves have and do come in and take the sheep after themselves. This, however, does not negate the sheep from being Jesus’. Let’s ask ourselves, “How much of the Wolf is in me?”
Let us “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:1-6 KJV).
Yes, we should definitely resist the controlling mechanism of people lording it over one another, like in the history of the Catholic (Universal) Church, but denying that there is one church is also wrong. The only good reason for Jesus’ church having separate local churches in the Bible was for geographical reasons. Anyway, the evil of controlling one another continues unabated even in our local churches. It is about attitude change as much as structure. The wrong structures existed in the Catholic Church because of the wrong view of leadership. The problem of pre-eminence starts in the heart.