Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.
Before our Father’s throne, we pour our ardent prayers; our fears, our hopes, our aims are one; and our comforts, and our cares.
We share our mutual woes, our mutual burdens bear; and often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.
When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain, but we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again.
— John Fawcett, Blest Be the Tie That Binds
There is no greater joy for a Christian than the fellowship one can have with a brother or sister in Christ. Not all enjoy socializing with unknown people, and not all people are typically eager to do so, but for believers it becomes a part of us. When we come across a fellow contender of the Faith, we can’t help an embrace of love, comfort, and laughter as we rejoice for meeting each other. In this aspect, Christianity is very unique and I am more than happy to be a part of it.
There is no greater love that I hold dear to my heart that could compare to my love for Christ. Christ is the reason for my created state, the life I live, and the salvation that I have come to find. His mercies are incomparable and His love outweighs anything the world has to offer. There is no greater love that should be present in my heart, but with my love for Christ comes another love.
When I come across an older gentleman in my fellowship with other believers, what follows is usually this question: Have you met my wife? Another variant is: This is my wife, ___. Any godly husband is delighted in his wife, and he can’t help it, but to have others meet her. It’s just something that as a youth I have come to notice. Though there are exceptions, typically a good husband is one who is not only unashamed of his wife, but also one who boasts in her. If you are a friend to the husband, it is very likely that you will respect and befriend the wife.
The same could be said for my love for the Church. Because I love Christ, I love the Church.
The groom who awaits the matrimonial event to come to pass, the event which His Father has prepared since the dawn of time.
The engaged bride who has been chosen by the Father for His Son, and now yearns for the return of her truest love.
I truly believe that Christ expects us to love the Church, as He has loved her. She is beautiful, pure, and the apple of His eye. The Scriptures speaks of The Church in Revelation 21:2 saying, “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem [the Church], coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her Husband.” The love we are to show in our romantic relationships even come from the principle of Christ and the Church found in Ephesians 5:25 saying,”Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” We are truly blessed to be called His and for the collective of believers to be engaged to the name above all names. We will be united with Him one day and it will truly be amazing.
But until that time, we have a privileged duty to love each other. As a man would never want to see his wife be abused by anyone, so does Christ not want us to have any abuse come to us. While I am very aware that there is much abuse of the Church that comes from the outside, I see enough going on with the body of Christ to be concerned with how we treat each other. It seems that the greatest abuse the bride of Christ goes through is self-abuse. We have heresy, extreme movements, and quarrels for the sake of conflict going on from within the body. Groups that have begun preaching a different Christ have emerged from the body, and it is highly disturbing. There is so much to fight, but this is when it gets sad: we fight the wrong people.
When Dr. John MacArthur wrote the book Strange Fire and hosted the Strange Fire Conference, there were many people willing to jump at Dr. MacArthur, claiming he was dividing the body. In reality, Dr. MacArthur was simply trying to differentiate the sheep from the wolves and goats. He warned people of the heretics in the Word of Faith/Charismatic movement. Rather than Evangelicals partnering up with Dr. John MacArthur to defend the true Church, they instead used their blogs and twitter accounts to attack him. It was a bigger concern to them that Dr. MacArthur would be dividing the Christians from the heretical gnostics, than their own behavior to a fellow brother and teacher.
Sadly, we see this even now. We see people debating over matters that do not concern the heart of the gospel, the attributes of God, and/or God’s work of salvation. We see the body tearing itself apart when it should be united in trying to defeat Satan and his forces. Our fight is against the evil principalities of this world, not about whether or not someone agrees with every little issue you agree with. Though I have a statement beliefs for this blog, and this blog is called REFORMED Alliance, I don’t believe that people have to agree with every aspect of my views to be saved. Not everything I believe is a primary issue of the gospel. I know that in the end we are not saved because of our confessions, eschatological views, or liturgical practices…
Whether you are…
Calvinist or Arminian
Cessationist or Continuationist
Complementarian or Egalitarian
Credobaptist or Paedobaptist
Pre, Post, or Amillenial
Baptist or Presbyterian…
None of it will matter unless the gospel is rooted in your heart. Is there a correct and biblical view? The Scripture seems to present itself that way, however these are not issues of brotherhood, but maturity. I was converted in a Charismatic environment, and I was not always a Calvinist. I came to the conclusions that I have today because of relentless study of the Word of God, not because it was part of my conversion process. Should we have debates and discussions on theological views? Absolutely, but we should never divide.
I will stand side by side with my Arminian brothers and sisters to defend biblical inerrancy. I will stand by my Egalitarian brothers and sisters to defend the respectful treatment of women. I will stand by my Continuationist brothers and sisters in my efforts to minister unto others and to preach the gospel to the people who haven’t heard it. There is a tie that binds the Church together and it is Christ. Of course many doctrines will divide, and that is why I don’t believe the Catholic, NAR, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, PCUSA, and the Greek/Russian Orthodox churches should be considered part of the body. However, we don’t turn away those who are one with us.
Apostle Paul once wrote to a congregation that was confused in their understanding of church leadership, direction, and doctrines. The Corinthian church has much division, one that was unnecessary. Paul addressed it in a lengthy passage, 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 (ESV), saying, “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. For it has been reported to me…that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?…For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
Our faith rests on the works of Christ and the gospel that He came to bring us. If we are in the gospel, then what is to stop us from uniting? If there are things concerning the gospel that divide, then there is no brotherhood in that place, but if there is no such division there is no reason for disputes. We must always remember the tie that binds us together, Christ: our awaited groom. May He return to a bride that is ready and undefiled by self-division and self-conflict. May He find that His bride is just as beautiful as He had last remembered her to be.
Soli Deo Gloria.