There is this joke I heard some time ago about a driver who accidentally slammed his saloon car into the back of a jeep. When he got out of his vehicle to see the damage, he discovered that the jeep had a sticker on it which read ‘AYO NI O’ – apparently, this was an identity sticker for members of a particular church. So he greeted, ‘AYO NI O’. The driver of the jeep sternly replied, “Ayo ka yo ni o. O ma tun motor mi se”, which can be loosely translated as “This greeting of joy is not accepted. You will fix my car”. The driver of the saloon car, who was in the wrong, had hoped for a soft landing from his fellow church member only to discover that the driver of the jeep was in no mood for fraternizing.
I see shades of the story above in our church circles. Somehow, some consider belonging to a certain church or denomination as having some added favours, benefits or significance which no one else outside the group may get. Informally, we use our churches to define status levels and classes supervised by church leaders, in the body of Christ. We almost have a feeling of superiority over other Christians because of our own church affiliations. Interestingly, it is worthy of note that heaven would do no screening based on our denominational affiliations.
Recently, I listened to Eric Whitcare’s virtual choir of over two thousand people from dozens of countries around the world singing the same song in a perfect harmonic blend, without physically assembling in any place. This was the product of the marriage of talent and technology. It reminded me of what the body of Christ should be – one large family brought under a single canopy of grace by the blood of redemption, singing the Lord’s song wherever they are planted. This is a body where no member is ashamed and all are proud of the name they bear.
In this body, denominationalism and sectarianism are non-issues as we fellowship with one another. We consider the name we bear and the blood marks on us more important than the demarcations humans have defined for us. We do not compete with each other because that is not what we are called to do. We all complement one another to realize the various aspects of the ultimate plan.
In this body, our fellowship is not defined by the doctrines of men or the constitutions of any church council but by the counsel of the Holy Spirit. We accept the absolute truth of God’s word and are guided in life, worship and work by the written word of GOD. We refuse to see ourselves as superior to any other member of the family as apostle Paul counselled in Rom 12:3 (For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith).
In this body, we are closer in persecution, more resolute in trials and steadier as the storms grow in fury. The more the scandals, the more distinct the family becomes. The darts of hatred which are shot at us from outside only end up squeezing out from within us the fragrance of God’s love. And the grace of God also keeps our heads above the waters of iniquity.
In this body, we love and accept others knowing that they are children of the Most High God. We live by faith and exude a confidence that stems from our faith. We are diligent and demonstrate excellence in all we do. We are purpose-driven and passionate about our call. We are people of integrity and we walk in purity and holiness. We honour and respect one another. This is our DNA. This is who we really are.
I believe the revivals of the last days shall be fired by the move of the Holy Spirit over a united church – the body of Christ. As we genuinely see each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, we would begin to see a more vibrant and relevant church flourishing in the land – a church that fulfills God’s purpose on earth. I look forward to a time when a born again Christian would simply introduce himself or herself as a Christian attending so-and-so church. He or she wouldn’t need to add the labels of ‘winner’, ‘anglican’, ‘catholic’, ‘dunamite’, ‘cozaite’, ‘methodist’, etc. This would be a nice indicator that the communion of the body is more important than any other association we might have. To make this a reality, every worship house must teach the gospel of Christ, not another gospel (Galatians 1:8-9). The undiluted word of God must be fed to those who seek the Lord in these houses. And we all must always remember whose children we are.
Let’s keep the unity of the Spirit.
Still in His grip.