Submission to the Singular Motivation of
CHRIST ALONE UNIFIES THE CHURCH
© 2020 Philip A Matthews
“The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.”
(John 17:21 The Message)
Christians throughout the Body of Christ increasingly recognize that the many walls we Christians have erected to separate us from each other should be torn down. Christian unity is Jesus’ standard and desire, but unfortunately, we have lost it, refusing to fellowship each other over doctrines, histories, personalities, traditions, etc. We recognize that the church will never reach its full power, potential, and effectiveness if we continue to allow our differences to prevent us from loving each other despite the many individual brands of Christianity.
Indeed, this is the only way the world will ever be reached: It will take many different groups of Christians having different spheres of influence using different means and methods of outreach to win different cultures and groups of unbelievers to the same Christ. Let's recognize this as God's plan and quit pressuring each other to fit into the same religious mold, then disowning each other when we don't. Division is not merely having differences, but not having LOVE despite those differences! Division is refusing to recognize, love, and accept other true Christians as our brothers and sisters in Christ. Unity is recognizing our many differences and fully and lovingly accepting and working with each other in spite of them.
This requires us to make a few comments about Christian motivation. The church of God in the earth is the Body of Christ, consisting of all the blood-washed souls in the world. At the head of that Body is Jesus Christ Himself. Just as in a natural body the head controls everything that happens in that body, so also in the Body of Christ the Head controls everything. Every member in that Body, no matter how small and insignificant, must have a direct connection to the Head. “Christ is the head, and the whole body depends on him” (Colossians 2:19 ERV). Otherwise, that member ceases to be a viable part of the Body. If the nerve connection is broken, or some other malady interferes with the connection, that member is paralyzed and unable to receive communication from the Head. Eventually that member is cut off and dies (John 15:1-6). But the point is that the power, energy, and motivation from the Head radiates throughout the Body into every single member of the Body and then out into the world. Thus, every member is, in some way, an expression or reflection of the Head.
The concept of the Head radiating and expressing Himself through every member is a very significant concept. Every member reflects something that is going on in the Head. The desires and wishes of the Head, the burden of the Head, the love and grace of the Head, the power and motivation of the Head—these influences should be what radiates down through every member. When every member has the spirit of Christ, the mind of Christ, the burden of Christ, the love of Christ for souls, and the desire of Christ, then unity is possible. But when the singular motivation of Christ is not radiating through every Christian, then Christians find themselves unable to practice unity. There are simply too many different motivations.
This is what has happened to the Body of Christ in the world today. Too many Christians are not reflecting the mind and burden of Christ. The pure, single desire for God alone that Christ possessed is not their chief desire. The love that motivated Christ is not what motivates them. They are not radically submitted and emptied of self. They are driven by some other selfish motivation, a love of themselves. As Paul wrote to the Philippians: “For the others all seek [to advance] their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ (the Messiah)” (Philippians 2:21 Amplified).
For example, one leader is driven by the burden of Christ, but his co-worker is driven by a desire to save his preaching career and/or his salary or pension. One brother is motivated by the desire to present Christ alone to the world, but another is motivated to present his brand of Christianity. One is trying to save souls, but another is trying to save the church or the denomination. One is trying to obey the Great Commission by bringing sinful, unchurched people in, while the other is trying to keep the church “clean” and driving them out because, as one church deacon preposterously told me one day, they are of the “wrong element”! Of course, Jesus Himself got in trouble for trying to win folks from the “wrong element” (Luke 15:2!). And at one time, we were ALL part of the “wrong element!”
Continuing with our real-world examples, one Christian is trying to build God’s Kingdom, but another is selfishly building his own little kingdom! Another cannot make an honest move for God and biblical Truth because he is trying to maintain his political clout within some religious movement. Another is driven by the need to maintain approval from a religious group and to keep from offending somebody. Still another is making all his moves obsessed with the fear of what other Christians might think of him. Some are “working for Christ” to bolster their own egos and boost their own feelings of self-worth, thus really working for themselves. Some have a zeal for Christ, and some have a zeal for the success of their churches. Some have a zeal for themselves. “Some indeed preach Christ out of envy and strife; others do it out of a good heart. Some do it from love, others from a spirit of competition” (Philippians 1:15-17). And some want Christ to be preached, but, like the carnally-motivated disciples in Mark 9:38-40, only if "they follow us."
Listen: There is absolutely no way for Christians, within any specific movement or among movements, to work together in unity if they are not ALL reflecting the true Spirit, love, burden, drive, motivation, and desires of Jesus Christ—and nothing else. It is time for all of us to radically submit our own personal motivations, ambitions, and agendas under the singular motivation of Jesus Christ alone—the LOVE of GOD!
The sobering question is, Who is going to preach Christ alone, without fear and without selfish desires, from an absolutely pure motivation? How many Kingdom workers are in this thing only because of a love for Christ and not because of what they are getting out of it—power, money, prestige, recognition, fulfillment of personal ambitions; personal kingdom-building; feelings of self-worth and accomplishment; emotional sentimentality and longings for the “good old times”; spiritual conscience soothing; maintaining of social or political connections; perpetuation of church identity, history, traditions, and doctrinal preservation; a need to feel busy and important; emotional security; or some other selfish reward? With all this stuff motivating Christian leaders and laypeople alike, unity and cooperation is utterly impossible! We can never get on the same page if we are not reading out of the same chapter! And, unfortunately, some of us are not even in the same book!
It should be noted that Satan himself recognizes that there are only two sides in the spirit world—God’s and his. As the pressure and persecution against believers increase daily throughout this world, the devil and his agents don’t care what brand of Christianity you preach. All they care about is, Are you on their side? And if you aren’t, then they are persecuting all Christians, even Christian cults, indiscriminately! Meanwhile, we selfishly-motivated, self-loving Christians continue to let our differences keep us from helping each other. When will we learn Jesus’ secret: “Whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40)? If we’re not on Satan’s side, then we’re on God’s side—together. Let’s act like it! Has the blood of Jesus saved you? Do we share in that one Spirit, one Lord, one God and Father, one faith, one baptism, one hope (Ephesians 4:4-6)? Let’s LOVE each other even if we don’t agree on everything! Let’s submit our own little personal agendas and follow God’s.
Is it even God’s will for His people to be unified through love? The answer is a resounding, Yes! Jesus Himself prayed for this just before He left the world in John 17:21 (The Message): “The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.” He said something similar right after the Last Supper, in John 13:34-35 (The Message): "Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other."
So our disunity, lack of love, and failure to radically submit our motivations under Christ are hindering us from proving that our Lord Jesus Christ is indeed sent from the One True God of Heaven, and that we ourselves are indeed His true disciples. In a world as wicked and perverse as ours, is this what we want to continue doing? Shouldn’t we change this ASAP?
From “Let’s Come Together” by Kevin Levar
…If we come together so many souls will be saved
If we come together so many souls will be changed
If we come together so many bound will be free, They’ll be free
We got to come together… I need you, You need me, We're all a part of God's family
So let's not fight, Let's not fuss, Let's worship Jesus… We got to come together…
Let the walls fall down that divide Your body…
- How do you propose solving the problem of a lack of unity within the Body of Christ in this world? Or do you believe unity among God’s people is even possible?
- What can you do personally to help achieve more unity in the Church?
Lord Jesus, I realize this is a big problem in the Church, the inability of your people to love and accept each other and work together. Help us come together, some way, somehow, at some time. Perhaps it may be by fire and persecution. Whatever You choose to do, feel free, so that Your will may be done in earth as it is in heaven, and so that we may prove that You sent Jesus and we ourselves are His disciples. We pray this, just as He Himself prayed, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.