Last week on this blog, I posted an article titled ‘Jesus Christ…The Dividing Light of ‘Separation’. If you haven’t yet gotten the chance to read this post, let me strongly encourage you to click the link above and give it a read. I am convinced that the things discussed there are vitally important.
The dialogue that occurs from readers posting their comments and questions to the blog are as equally important as the articles themselves in my opinion. In today’s post, I’d like to highlight a specific comment from that post that is extremely insightful. This comment was posted by Trevor Honeycutt:
“Separation” is a process whereby the Lord builds and purifies His kingdom.
“Division” is the enemy’s counterfeit to this process.
One builds unto glory and fruitfulness.
The other destroys unto rottenness.
And many who are unclear on the difference between the two, and that “separation” is of the Lord, unwisely make and maintain ungodly soul-ties like Israel did with the Gibeonites just after crossing the Jordan.
Wow, there is a lot of wisdom in that statement! I think there could be an entire book written about this. I greatly appreciated the distinction that Trevor made between ‘separation’ and ‘division’. I have seen and have been a part of both in the past. The Lord ‘separates’, but Satan ‘divides’. If we don’t embrace the Lord’s separation, there will certainly be division.
The Necessity Of Separation
There are over 33,000 different denominations / sects within Christendom. This used to greatly perplex me. Haven’t the scriptures boldly and clearly declared that there is only one Christ with one body? Yes, in Bible college, I heard all the arguments about why local sects and denominations were necessary, but they were all hollow. After several years of wrestling with this, light broke through and helped me see reality.
In reality, there has always been one church. This is true both locally & universally. There is one Christ with one body, and we have been immersed into Him (1 Cor. 12:13). Although I read those words from scripture numerous times in the past, I didn’t actually see the church this way until Christ’s ‘separating’ light came to separate my vision of His church from that which is not His church.
As long as I practically saw the church through the lens of a specific local institution, denomination, or organization, I could not see that the church was indeed one. I also was not able to openly and honestly see the institution / organization for what it truly was. To question one was to question the other. The light of Jesus Christ had to come and open my eyes to see that His glorious body was simply Christ in the saints. When a group of people are built together in relationship around the headship of Jesus Christ, there you have a New Testament expression of the church. Until I began to see the church this way, all I saw was Satan’s work of division.
Seeing the glorious church as ‘separate’ from all the various organizations, brands, and local franchises that have been created by mankind has helped me see brothers and sisters in Christ for who they truly are. Seeing Christ in His body has also helped me see local franchises and institutions for what they truly are as well. Those who do not understand the ‘separating’ light of Christ make two major errors that lead to ‘division’.
Because there is only one church, there is no such thing as the ‘institutional’ or ‘organic’ church. Allow me to use these labels to make a point, however. Because many cannot see that the church (saints in Christ) are ‘separate’ from their brand / organization, they naturally fall into exclusivism. This occurs regularly in ‘organic’ and ‘institutional’ settings. Many cannot see that those who function outside their ‘camp’ can still be their brothers and sisters in Christ.
I have many friends that are a part of religious institutions. Many of these same folks strongly disagree with me about matters of church expression and practice. Nevertheless, this does not change the fact that they are my brothers and sisters in Christ. We can have fellowship with one another discussing the mysteries of Christ anytime.
For me, seeing brothers and sisters in Christ as ‘separate’ from the system they may be operating in is vital for me to see them for who they really are. If I cannot see other brothers and sisters accurately, I cannot accept them. Unless we see brothers and sisters as being ‘in Christ’ and separate from the systems of man, brothers and sisters will indeed be ‘divided’ from one another. The saints have been ‘separated’ out of the kingdom of man and into the person of Jesus Christ.
2. ‘Institutional Universalism’
Those who cannot see Christ’s body as ‘separate’ from the religious system of mankind can also fall into the error of becoming what I call ‘institutional universalists’. Institutional universalism passively embraces the validity of mankind’s religious systems. Those who fall into this error become timid and are not able to see the evils of the religious system for what it truly is. They lose objectivity and the ability to fight for the Bride of Christ out of the fear of being ‘exclusive’.
Those who cannot see Christ’s body as ‘separate’ from the religious system of mankind lose the ability to deeply love brothers and sisters in Christ while at the same time seeing and combating the evils of the religious system those brothers and sisters may still be enslaved to. Those who fall into the error of ‘institutional universalism’ become blind to the Eternal purpose of God for a Bride and a House. Those who fall into the error of ‘institutional universalism’ also become divided from the saints who have taken a stand against the evils of it. A carful examination of church history will bear this pattern out.
May the Lord continue to illuminate the vast difference between the separating work of Christ, and the dividing work of Satan in the days ahead.