‘Identify with one another’
In his book, How Your Church Family Works, Peter Steinke writes, “The church is a gathering of dissimilar parts. It is not necessary that the parts be identical to one another. It is necessary that they be identified with one another.” He goes on to state that “The church, striking in its diversity, is most effective in its working together for mutual benefit.”
If we pay careful attention to the characters of the Bible, as well as to those in the modern church, we certainly find a huge variety of personalities. We find that God has chosen to use a multitude of diverse and dissimilar people to conduct His business on Earth, yet we also find that love for God and his work is a point of identity that they share. It is sad, though, when God’s people depart from their common identity and disengage, as Steinke stated from, “working together for mutual benefit.”
Certainly we will work together as God’s people more harmoniously if we will consciously choose to pour our energy into what holds us together rather than into what divides us. The things that hold us together are eternal in nature—they really do matter when life is over, while the things that divide us are usually petty and temporary and have no true meaning when our time on Earth is finished. Allowing selfishness to be the driving force of our lives, rather than concern for others and the overall good of God’s Kingdom, is a major stumbling block to the effectiveness of God’s church.
We would do well for ourselves individually and for God’s Church collectively if we would remind ourselves often of the areas in which we must identify with each other as Christians.
We must identify with each other as followers of Christ in unity of faith. When the apostle Peter was called on the carpet for doing the work of the Lord, he boldly stated to his complainants, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NIV). He was referring to Jesus Christ as that only source of eternal salvation. We must identify with each other in this common faith in Him if we are to be God’s church.
We must then identify with each other in unity of purpose. Concerning Himself and His mission, Christ said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). He has called us into the mission of proclaiming to others the message of forgiveness and eternal life that is found in Christ alone.
We must also identify with each other in eternal destination. Revelation 7:9 describes a beautiful heavenly scene made up of a diverse group, “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that on one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb [Christ]. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” This glimpse into eternity is a good reminder that all those who are faithful to Christ will spend eternity together in God’s presence.
As God’s people, if we will focus on identifying with each other in faith, purpose and destination, divisions will be diminished and unity will be enhanced. And I am convinced that that will please our Lord!