The Only Distinction in the Church That Matters

remember

I hear it in hushed tones in the foyer and at the potluck where I eat too much dessert. Sometimes the conversations seep into the supermarket check-out line and the school fundraiser.

It’s talk about why this person or that person left the church. Other times it’s gossip about where this visitor came from, what congregation he left, or why he’s there.

Usually I shrug my shoulders and move on. But every now and then, I get sucked into the black hole only to later, somehow drag myself out feeling depleted and empty.

And then I see the faces of 21 “men of the cross” plastered all of over the internet, social media and news, and I simply want to hang my face in shame.

My God, what have we done? What have we done to your church? There are people in another country dying in the name of Jesus, and we’re over here, safe in our beds, slandering the names of our own brothers and sisters.

We have turned the church of Christ into a brand for the select few. We have turned what should be a gathering place for the sick into a club for those who meet our social criteria.

I could lose my lunch at the thought of it. And I am guilty. God, am I guilty.

All I can think as I see those men kneeling on the beach is that somewhere there is a family mourning a deep and unexplainable loss. And here we are casting others out because they are not part of our denomination or doctrine or theology.

Jesus did not shed his blood for us to be divided. No, he prayed for unity.

“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as your are in me and I am in you.” John 17:20-21 NIV

He did not pray for us to be one with the clique that we have created within our church walls. He did not pray for us to be one with a select few.

He prayed for us to be one with all believers, as a complete body, working as the hands and feet of the one who gave up everything so that we could have life.

This means extending past the walls of our church building and into streets filled with the addicted, the hurting, the hungry and the lost. This means reaching out to that congregation you’ve been avoiding because you don’t agree with their practices.

It’s time to move past the walls dividing us and remember the blood that unites us.

People are losing their lives over what we take for granted every day. Men are kneeling down, sending up one last prayer to the Almighty over what we use as a crutch or reason to stand aloof.

Jesus, forgive us. Forgive me.

May I never forget what you paid such a high price to give. May I take up the cross and be a person of the cross, reaching out in love to those who need your truth.

May I remember that in the end there is only one designation which will matter: whether we are “people of the cross” or not.

 

*Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday, Susan B. Mead’s #DanceWithJesusLinkup, and Barbie Swihart’s WeekendBrew. Come join us and be inspired.

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47 thoughts on “The Only Distinction in the Church That Matters

  1. Abby, probably my favorite post related to this matter. Maybe because it spoke to how easily that distinction can be made between people of the cross and against the cross. How easily we fall away from the cross by not choosing love above all. I hope that made sense. This has been a hard week with this news and all the posts. I don’t know how to explain but I appreciated how you approached this. God bless you. xoxo

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    • Beth, thank you and that means a lot coming from you, friend. I am simply praying and asking God to show me the next step he wants me to take. I feel like nothing is enough, but I’m ready and willing to open my arms in his name.

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  2. Great post. And on target, unfortunately. How much more must we witness before we rise up, united, and fight? I read something the other day that just gave me chills: Jeremiah 48: 10 “Cursed are those who refuse to do the Lord’s work, who hold back their swords from shedding blood.” Father, have mercy.

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  3. Excellent post. I am guilty. I have repented. I am open to His calling. Where God do you want me to go? Who can I minister to
    today and tell of your extravagant love for them? Where God, direct my path and I will not waver to the best of my ability. Thanks Abby.

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    • Thank you so much for stopping by today, Jenn. Yes, I think that situations like this do serve, if anything, to show us what is truly important. Praying for his direction.

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  4. This whole situation tears at my heart. I wish there was something tangible we could do. I read an article not in mainstream media that said they were given one last opportunity to deny Christ and instead they lifted up songs of praise before being killed. Nothing feels like enough right now. I don’t know what to say or do… just nothing feels adequate. What a beautiful and tragic example of faith. And here we are in America, afraid to wear our beliefs on our sleeves when we have never known such persecution or extremism. I am flooded with tears over this. I wish I had more to say. Thank you for calling us together.

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    • No, America does not know true persecution. That is for sure. I understand the feeling of helplessness, Kristi. I am simply praying for God to show me the next step to take, and praying that I my heart will be willing and ready to move forward. Thank you for your continual encouragement, friend.

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  5. So true, Abby. There is a lot of destruction that happens among the body of Christ. Our own unique brand of terrorism. It makes me sick too to see those that wear the name of believer turn their backs on their own. God would want so much more from us. Just another reason to use our voices for good, to speak truth, and shed light on the shadows.

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  6. Amen. I am guilty of some of the pettiness you are referring to. You nailed so many things on the head about how God’s children and how we pick up little things that really doesn’t matter to separate ourselves from each other. We are comfortable in our faith in America and take a lot of things for granted. May God forgive us all for our sins against Him.

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  7. Sometimes the end of a post just needs a moment of silence. I had to pause before I could speak, but I must agree. And how many petty things of whatever sort are we allowing to consume our hearts and our attention? Rightly solemn.

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    • Yes, we certainly do allow a lot of petty things to consume our hearts. If anything, what happened in Libya is showing many what is truly important. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, Sheila.

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  8. I am so guilty. I was convicted on this very thing just a few days ago. It seems like an epidemic that our country has. And the only way to overcome it is to be aware and shake the powers of distraction that have held us captive for far too long (entertainment, social standings, etc). I started writing about it and was brought to the harsh reality that I have turned my attention from great needs as well. Ouch. Forgive us, God! Break our hearts for what breaks yours.
    Thank you for writing such beautiful words! Always love reading!

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    • Thank you so much for your continual encouragement, Dana. I appreciate you so much and yes, I agree. Our country does have an epidemic and truly does not know what real persecution is.

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  9. Blood unites us…..such strength in that statement, Abby. You’ve written a beautiful, thought-provoking piece here. (Probably one of the best since I’ve been following you.) It draws me, and I would estimate many others, nearer to the “real reason,” causing us to re-think our thinking. Yes, the blood. xo

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  10. Oh I stand convicted too, Abby. Thanks for writing on this 21 men of the cross with such an interesting slant. We can’t take up our cross long enough to love our brother right next to us. How could we be ready to die for Jesus? I’ve been moved and disturbed by the violence we saw last weekend, but because of my location, I feel it’s unwise to tweet or post about it. I’ve been so encouraged to see so many sisters take up the baton and write on this subject so near to my heart. Thank you.

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    • I certainly can understand your feelings about not wanting to write on this, Betsy. Thank you for your encouragement, friend. Praying over your time with your family this weekend and in the coming week.

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  11. Abby, This post broke open my heart today. Not only am I convicted about my own actions, but am aching for our body to be unified. “People are losing their lives over what we take for granted every day.” I am so very guilty of taking this for granted and when that smoke screen is threatened I want to bury my head in the sand. Your words are so true, so freeing. His blood was shed for every single one of us- regardless of color, creed or denomination. His one act of sacrifice equips me to not only receive but to give. May I honor that call with all that I am.
    Thank you so much for your vulnerability, your outpouring of words, it always inspires me. {Hugs} dear friend!

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  12. Oh, Abby, this is my favorite post of yours. You brought it here. You brought me to the cross and to my knees, because I am as guilty as anyone of making distinctions in the church. Yes, that we would all be united as “people of the cross” and that be the only thing defining us. Love this. Love you. Thank you for being brave and putting words to what my heart has been feeling this week and NEEDS to be living. xoxo

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    • I believe we are all guilty in some way, Meredith, and I just pray that what’s happening opens many hearts to the truth. Thank you so much for always pushing me on, dear friend. I’m so grateful for you, always.

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  13. Such powerful words, Abby! I am humbled, because I’ve been right there, too. Right in the midst of the judging and separating, taking sides and quarreling. Praying for God to forgive me and help me–to love with His love, because of His love, for His glory and the good of all. Thank you for your boldness to share these words today.

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    • I am in the midst of it too, Sabra, and I pray God opens many people’s eyes to the truth. Thanks so much for your encouragement, friend. Have great weekend.

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  14. This is really where the rubber meets the road, isn’t it? Washed in the blood will be the only qualification that matters in the end. Yet we’re so quick to label and reject others who are feeling their way through their salvation a tad differently than us.
    I vividly remember watching a group of theology students get into it over end times details one day. The debates ramped up, disrespectful arguments (“well, it’s just that I’m passionate”, one would say later) poured out across the room… and a girl who was watching turned to me suddenly and said, “Wow, if that’s Christianity, I’m out.”
    It’s one thing to want to speak biblical truth, it’s another to thing to pick someone apart for it.
    Your words, Abby, and gentle and generous. Thanks for being brave enough to say them. The church has to come together.

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    • Thank you for sharing that story, Christine. I think it truly does show how much harm can be caused by our pettiness. Disagreeing is one thing, but when we are not loving then there truly is a problem. Thank you so much for your encouragement, friend. Much love to you.

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  15. “My God, what have we done? What have we done to your church? There are people in another country dying in the name of Jesus, and we’re over here, safe in our beds, slandering the names of our own brothers and sisters.” Abby I love this. My heart aches for the families of those 21 heroes. Over and over in mind I keep hearing, “because of the illusion of the cross they carried in their heads” Jesus, help us. Thank you for a good jolt of reality.

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  16. The truth that you spoke about in this post is one that cuts us to the quick. We proclaim to be people of the church and we don’t even take care of our own. Your words hit me hard with a new understanding of what it means to “people of the cross”. Blessed you joined us at The Weekend Brew.

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  17. Thanks Abby for sharing your thoughts about the great division going on in the Church. This is not limited to America but is demonstrated all around the globe. There is no easy solution to this and the only thing I can do is spread the correct message by sharing the truth of God’s word. Even Jesus in Matthew 10: 34-39 spoke about division. May Christ continue shining bright in you and family lives.

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  18. People are losing their lives over what we take for granted every day. Men are kneeling down, sending up one last prayer to the Almighty over what we use as a crutch or reason to stand aloof.

    POWERFUL TRUTH, Abby. Thank you for nailing this one up to the cross for us to see and READ the notice.

    WANTED: a person of the cross, one who reaches out in love to those who need Your truth, Lord.

    Thank you again Abby.

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  19. Pingback: 5 Ways to Promote Unity in the Church | Fearfully Made Mom

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