Body of Christ

The Relational Divide, 25 October 2020

The Relational Divide (We Need One Another)
Series—The Great Divide

Series Big Idea: Our world is filled with division, yet Jesus prayed that we would be one.

Big Idea: The Kingdom of God is diverse, multi-generational, and beautiful

Today we conclude our series “The Great Divide.” We began with the political divide and said our focus must be on the Lion and the Lamb, not the elephant or donkey. We are a politically diverse family and we need to offer respect, grace, and love to one another. Period.

Last Sunday we talked about the racial divide. We noted how there is only one race, the human race, and although we are all created with equal value, we are not all treated with equal value.

[I hope you took some time this past week to educate yourself through the Phil Vischer videos]

Today we’re going to talk about the relational divide…those other things which come between us as spiritual siblings…and how we can overcome them by building bridges.

The mission of First Alliance Church is to be a Jesus-centered family restoring God’s masterpieces in Toledo and beyond for His glory.

It’s important to note the church doesn’t actually have a mission, but rather God’s mission has a Church! We are here for God’s glory. That’s the bottom line. We’re not a social club for the benefit of its members. We are not to be consumers of religious goods and services. We are a family on mission. We are here to glorify God. What does it look like to bring glory to God? Jesus said to the Father,

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23)

I often reference this essential scripture, but why does Jesus pray this? Is it to give us more work to do? Is it about making peace in the family? The bottom line is God’s glory, that the world will know Jesus and God’s love.

I know I’ve said this many times before, but if we did our job, I believe the world would be in much better shape. The world is going to sin, create division, hate, judge, lie, condemn, …but while we are in the world, we are not to be of the world. We are to be Kingdom people, citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20).

Eleven times we’re commanded to “love one another.” That’s more than a suggestion!

Unity does not mean uniformity. We are all different…by design. Like musicians in a trio or quartet, we must learn to play our notes in harmony with one another, complementing one another, adding to the beauty, not causing conflict or division.

What is the root of all division? I believe it is pride, arguably the root of all sin. Think for a moment about any tension, any conflict, any disagreement. Imagine if one of the persons put this into practice:

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)


Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

Imagine if both people put that into practice! I said last week…

We are all created with equal value, but we are not all treated with equal value.

Even inside the Church, inside the family, it’s tempting to show favoritism, to look down on some people, to judge or condemn or simply avoid a brother or sister. But we can’t let the enemy win! We are spiritual siblings. We must love well, not only for our sake, not only for the sake of others in the family, but for the sake of the gospel, the good news, Jesus! Loving well brings God glory. In His eyes…

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

Besides politics and race, what divides us? What keeps us from experiencing full, agape love with one another? What threatens unity? First, I think it’s our focus.

C.S. Lewis said, “Seek Unity and you will find neither Unity nor Truth. Seek the light of truth, and you will find Unity and Truth.” Indeed, we must focus on Jesus. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We must be filled with the Holy Spirit, guided by the holy scriptures, and seeking the glory of God.

We need to focus on Jesus, not ourselves.
Not our favorite candidate or author. Jesus. The enemy wants us divided. A house divided cannot stand.

So besides losing our focus on Jesus, what problems create divisions in the family? We’re going to briefly look at nine…and some practical solutions.

Problem: gossip
Solution: Matthew 18

It is amazing how gossip can spread…even innocently…even in a prayer meeting…even out of genuine concern. I love Dave Ramsey’s take on gossip. It’s poison. He has a no-gossip policy at his company, and I have one for our church family. Ramsey defines gossip as discussing anything negative with someone who can’t help solve the problem. The solution is simple. It’s found in Matthew 18.

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17)

The next one is closely related.

Problem: lies
Solution: truth

Someone recently asked me a question about some gossip they heard. It was a total lie! Had the original person simply come to me or someone who could answer the question rather than guess and accuse, countless people would’ve be spared of misinformation which was negative and alarming. Get the facts. That goes for social media, too. Don’t believe everything you read online…especially if it’s from the Babylon Bee (which is a satire site!). It seems so obvious to tell the truth, but intentionally or accidentally, so much division is caused by data that is simply not true.

Problem: judging
Solution: help me understand

I think we’re all guilty of judging others, despite the clear commands of scripture. Even non-Christians like Jesus’ words in Matthew 7…

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said,
Judgement is the forbidden objectivization of the other person which destroys single-minded love. I am not forbidden to have my own thoughts about the other person, to realize his shortcomings, but only to the extent that it offers to me an occasion for forgiveness and unconditional love, as Jesus proves to me.
What do we do when we smell something fishy, pastor? Here are three words: help me understand. We are so quick to make assumptions without knowing the full story.

Problem: worship preferences
Solution: submit to one another

This one gets personal. Let’s face it, we all like certain songs, certain styles of music, certain fashion, certain types of sermons, certain expressions of worship, certain volume levels, certain lengths of sermons, …

There’s no perfect church. There’s no perfect pastor…or sermon or worship leader or…

The larger the family, the more we must love well, compromise, and even submit to one another.

We don’t like that word “submit.” It goes against our rugged individualism. Frank Sinatra sang, “I Did It My Way!” But the Bible said something entirely different.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)

When is the last time you took a deep breath and shift the focus from your preferences to…Jesus? I remember the “worship wars” of the 90’s…and probably every generation. Hymns, no choruses. Modern, no ancient. Slow, no fast. Worship’s not for you!!! Again, where is your focus? We’re here for Jesus! It shouldn’t matter if we repeat the song fifty times…it’s not for us! OK, actually, I do sometimes tire of endless repetition of song lyrics, but then again, we’re told of each of the four living creatures in Revelation,

Day and night they never stop saying:

“ ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” (Revelation 4:8b)

Problem: cultural differences
Solution: celebrate diversity

This often gets lumped into the race conversation. Is the issue skin color or economic class or cultural differences. Regardless, we can celebrate our diversity. I admit, I’m weird! I’m a variety junkie. My favorite restaurant is the one I’ve never been to before. I’d rather travel to a new place than a frequented one. I love people, and I’m especially drawn to the—uh—unique ones. Birds of a feather…!!!

I’m glad we’re different! It can create conflicts, but it can also create growth, understanding, and friendships. How boring would it be if everyone was just like me?! God created each of us unique and special. Let’s celebrate His masterpieces!

Problem: bitterness
Solution: forgiveness

This one’s a biggie. We obviously can’t unpack this fully today, but so much of the relational divide in our society involves bitterness. Sometimes the offense—or the alleged offense—occurred decades ago, yet the wedge of bitterness remains, penalizing both parties with a missing relationship.

The solution is forgiveness. Nobody deserves to be forgiven. It’s a choice. When the choice is made, beautiful things begin…for both people. Forgiveness doesn’t mean trust. It doesn’t mean forget. It means let go of the grudge. It means move on. Often this is a miracle only possible by the Holy Spirit, but we serve the God of the impossible!

Problem: theological differences
Solution: grace and essentials

There’s a great line that says, In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas. If, like me, you don’t know Latin, it means, “in necessary things unity; in uncertain things liberty; in all things charity.” It’s often attributed to Augustine, but it was likely first used in 1617 by Archbishop Marco Antonio de Dominis. There are open-handed and closed-handed issues when we talk about God. Although we often debate which are open and which are closed, there are some things like the virgin birth, the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the reliability of the Bible which we would say are essential, non-negotiables, while some matters such as the age of the earth, whether or not there will be pets in heaven, and appropriate alcohol use we might call important but not essential. The point being “in all things charity.” We need to exercise grace with one another and focus on the essentials.

One thing I love about the Christian & Missionary Alliance is its theological diversity. We have a lot of opinions about a lot of things and we are free to respectfully discuss them while maintaining a statement of faith which is biblical and simple.

Problem: busyness
Solution: sabbath

In many relationships, the greatest divide is time. We’re so busy, we simply fail to take the time to get to know one another. We need rest, we need sabbath, we need to slow down, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and be together. Love is often spelled t-i-m-e.

Problem: generation gaps
Solution: mentoring (both benefit)

Finally, generation gaps often create division between people, even Christians. Some of this may be cultural differences or worship preferences, but just like it’s easy to stereotype based upon ethnicity, it’s also common to think or say, “Oh you Millennials” or “You old people” or “You amazing GenXers!” This has even resulted in single-generation churches of twentysomethings or retirees rather than a multi-generational congregation in which mentoring is active, the older teaching the younger. This was commonplace in the early church. Paul told Titus to teach the older women so they can mentor the younger women (Titus 2:3-5). Spiritual parenting or even grandparenting can be mutually beneficial and enhance the life of any congregation, bridging generation gaps with love, dignity, respect, and understanding.

So What?

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:2-6)


May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)

For Further Reading

The Fellowship of Differents by Scot McKnight

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library

We Are Gifted, 2 March 2014

Big Idea: We are gifted.

Ephesians 4:1-16


Do you like gifts? When do you usually receive a gift? When we get a gift, we usually think about how it can benefit us. Have you ever received a gift that you wanted to use to bless someone else? I’m not talking about regifting! I mean sharing a gift.

Two weeks ago I attended my friend’s daughter’s first birthday party. There was a huge pile of gifts. There were children there, too, that were interested in these gifts. Can you guess what happened?!

Today we continue our series on the book of Ephesians, Who Do You Think You Are? As we begin chapter four, a huge shift occurs, from doctrine to clear directives. Paul spent the first three chapters talking about who we are—and Whose we are. We are in Christ.

Ephesians parallels the book of Joshua. Joshua entered the land of Promised Land, leading the children of Israel over the Jordan speaking of the death, burial and resurrection to the Promised Land where we (should be) living today. Joshua had to take possession (the great word in Joshua).

Ephesians 1-3 is all about position, we are in Christ. Are we walking in possession? Now we enter the Promised Land to be a blessing to others.

We will see a shift from declarations to commands, from propositions to practical stuff for those in Christ.

Our culture often says if you do something, you can be somebody. God says be somebody and then you can do something as a result. Be in Christ. Becoming a child of God. Follow Jesus. Transformation follows.

I believe one of the great tragedies contributing to the decline of the movement of Jesus in our culture is the message we have sent to the world. Many churches communicate the need to
behave, believe, and then belong. The order must be reversed. We must welcome the stranger and invite them into relationship with us and God. After they are loved and feel they belong it is likely they will believe, and once they believe and receive Jesus and the Holy Spirit, then and only then do they have the ability to behave.

As we begin Ephesians 4, these words are instructions to believers who are in Christ. Without Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit this text will be nothing more than futile, guilt-inducing moralizing. May it never be!

Paul the prisoner begins to instruct his readers, believers in the early Church.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (1-3)

We could camp out on these three verses for weeks!

Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. J. Vernon McGee said people may not be telling you but they’re smelling you to see if your faith is genuine. It’s not only how we walk but where we walk, walking in the light (1 John 1:7). Is your life worthy of being called “Christian,” a “little Christ?”

Be completely humble. Humility has been a challenge for me…ever since I was eight years old, played a piano solo in our small church, and responded to a kind old lady who said, “You play very nice, young man” with the fateful words, “I know!” Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. Few things make loving relationships challenging more than pride. We will in a culture where so many are creating platforms, establishing their own personal brand identity, and seeking as many likes, friends and followers as possible. Those endeavors are not necessarily sinful, but the attitude behind them can be evil. Pride got Lucifer the angel kicked out of heaven where he then became satan. Are you seeking God’s fame or your own.

…and gentle. Gentleness—or meekness—is not weakness. Moses (shattering the stone tablets) and Jesus (turning over the tables in the Temple) were both meek. Meekness is bowing to God’s will.

Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Patience is a virtue, but patience with people is especially challenging. They don’t usually change as quickly as a traffic light!

- Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

This is one of Paul’s core messages—

Perhaps the most significant verse for the people of Israel speaks to this idea of unity.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4)

There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (4-6)

One body (the Church)
One Spirit (the Holy Spirit)
One hope (blessed hope)
One Lord (Jesus)
One faith (Acts 2:42)
One baptism (baptism in the Holy Spirit)
One God and Father (the Father of believers)

God is transcendent, above His creation.
God is through and in all, too.

Unity is one of my four prayers for Scio: unity, passion, protection and direction. LORD, make us one. That was Jesus’ prayer for us (John 17).

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) (7-10)

This is an interesting segue from unity to gifts. There are a few possible meanings behind this reference to Psalm 68:18. We know Jesus ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9). Some see “descended” as a reference to the Incarnation when Jesus came to earth as a baby. Others think it refers to when Jesus descended into Hell.

What is clear is God gives gifts to individuals to use not for themselves but for the Church, the Body of believers. It’s to bless others.

If you are a believer you have been given at least one gift to serve others. You are vital part of the body. With the possible exception of a haircut, no surgery is painless!

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (11-13)

Jesus gave the gifts.
He has the authority.
Every believer has at least one gift.
Nobody has all of the gifts.
It’s not that you have or don’t have a gift. There can be degrees.
Gifts may be lifelong or possibly temporary, like healing.
There is no comprehensive list of spiritual gifts.

There are four sections on spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, 1 Peter 4, Ephesians 4).

We are all called to be ministers.

As a pastor, I’m called to equip you to do the ministry, works of service.

Wisdom (1 Cor. 12:8)
Knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8)
Faith (1 Cor. 12:9)
Healing (1 Cor. 12:9)
Miracles (1 Cor. 12:9)
Discernment (1 Cor. 12:10)
Apostleship (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11)
Teaching (Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11)
Helps and Service (Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28; 1 Peter 4:11)
Administration (1 Cor. 12:28)
Evangelism (Eph. 4:11)
Pastoring/Counseling (Eph. 4:11)
Encouragement (Rom. 12:8)
Giving (Rom. 12:8)
Leadership (Rom. 12:8)
Mercy (Rom. 12:8)
Hospitality (Rom. 12:13)
Tongues (1 Cor. 12:8–10, 29
Prophecy (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10, 28; Eph. 4:11)

Do you know your spiritual gift or gifts? These questions from Mark Driscoll may help you identify them:

Whom/where do you have a passion to serve?
What do you have a burden to do?
needs do you see in the church?
What do you find joy in doing for others?
What opportunities has God already provided for you to serve others?
What things are you best at and have the most success in?
What have godly people commended you for doing?
What acts of service have given you the deepest sense of satisfaction and joy?

What is the purpose of gifts? The maturity of the Church.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (14-16)

Grow up! We’re not supposed to remain as spiritual babies but we are to grow up. How do you know if someone is a mature person? How do you know if someone is a mature believer?


Where does your church need to grow towards maturity?
What gifts has God given to enable this to take place?
What challenges, what cunning tricks and false teaching, do you need to watch out for, and how can you combat it?

Not every Christian is called to full-time vocational ministry, but every Christian is called to the “work of ministry.”


You can take a free spiritual gifts inventory and experience other valuable tools at


Some ideas from

J.I. Packer, Ephesians (sermon series audio)
Mark Driscoll,
Who Do You Think You Are (book and podcast series)
GLO Bible
Louie Giglio, Passion City Church sermon series
J. Vernon McGee
, Thru The Bible,

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.