Join the Christian Reunion WebRing
Y ears ago, during the early 1970's, I found myself facing a spiritual crisis. Even though I had been led to an elementary knowledge of God in my youth, for years I had felt little need for God in my life. I never really knew him. Approaching my 30's, I was healthy, strong, and took great pride in my ability to "take care of myself". But God is patient. And, more importantly to me, he is merciful and gracious and full of love for his creation. For many of us, it is when we are brought low that God can lift us up. In our own weakness, we can experience the strength and love of God. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain, sometimes our hands are so full of good things that we have no room left to hold the blessings of God. And there are blessings that he is eager to give us if we would only extend our hands to receive them. So my hands were made empty and ready to receive.
I had a small family. We were living in a basement apartment in a large city, over 2000 miles from our small home town. We had almost no possessions. The only furniture we owned consisted of a used crib and a card table from the Goodwill store.We were deep in poverty, barely able to make a living. We were unable to license and insure our car, or renew my driver's license. I loaned the battery from the car to another couple who lived in another part of town and never saw it again. I rode the bus during the week to my minimum wage job in a box factory across town. We eventually sold the car for fifty dollars for food and other needs. We had no washing machine, and could seldom afford to take our clothes to the coin laundry. My wife, washed clothes in the bathtub, rubbing them clean in soapy water by hand. We had no telephone, which made it difficult to find a better job. It appeared we were trapped with no way out. I felt helpless as I began to realize how easily my human abilities could be defeated by simple circumstances of time and place. I was brought to my knees. It was in those dark days that I sought God, and he began to speak to my heart of the futility of human endeavor apart from him. We often are given our first real glimpse of God through our tears. And so it was with me.
G od revealed himself to me then. I began to be filled with an insatiable hunger for his presence. I was ready to do anything he wanted me to do if only I could be close to him. I wanted him to come to me, if only he would, in his glory while I prayed. I wanted to commune with him in visions, if it were possible. And I wanted to know in which of the many churches he dwelled. I wanted to fellowship with the true people of God and worship in his presence with those that know him and love him. I wanted to find his true church. Which one was it?
A s I sought the "true church" a dilemma began to become apparent. From the perspective of our little apartment in this "Bible Belt" city, it seemed that we were surrounded on every side by churches of every kind imaginable. I had long ago acquired a dislike and distrust of "organized religion" and was incredibly frustrated as I agonized over my predicament. If we were to go to one of these churches, to "try it out," the preacher would probably collar us on the way out and want to come and visit us. Not knowing much about "spiritual truth," being a spiritual "baby" (Hebrews 5:13), and seeking truth without a mentor and guide (I know now that Christ has always been my guide. But I was not aware then that he was leading me), I was afraid of ending up in "the wrong church" for the rest of my life. I was in a state of great frustration. So hungry for the word! So hungry for God in my life!...but where do I go to be fed? Where do I go to find him? Where is his true church? Where are his people?
I knelt and prayed for long hours for help and guidance. I would lie awake on my bed at night, praying until I fell asleep exhausted, praying to God that he would lead my wife, my young family, and me to his people, to his church, to his presence. I studied the Bible daily, and read all the Christian literature I could lay my hands on. I tuned in to religious programs on TV and radio hoping to find that church that I knew existed. I knew that everyone couldn't be right, but I thought that someone must be right.
F inally, after months of prayer and study, my wife and I began to attend a church, and soon we both gave our lives to God. Although this church was not well known or very large, and their beliefs were considered legalistic and far removed from mainstream Christianity, we felt that we had found the "one true church." (Interestingly, this church was founded in the 1930's by a man who had then faced this same dilemma of trying to find the "true church.")
G od had at last led us to fellowship with other Christians, and we truly thought we were finally in the "true church," We fellowshipped exclusively with this church for over two decades, making the move back to our small home town in the mean time. Then, in the late 1980's and early 1990's, the religious "belief system" of this church began to collapse. God began to point out certain errors in our doctrines, and then the many other doctrines that were built on, and depended on, these erroneous doctrines began to fall like dominos, one after another. Other churches had long regarded us as a heretical sect, or even a cult, and now it was being shown to us that their accusations were not entirely without reason and substance.
A great and wonderful miracle was being performed! A work of mighty power! God led most of an entire denomination to a greater understanding of the truth! God dealt with the church as a group, and he also dealt with us as his individual children, for each of us had unique needs and varying capacities for such profound changes in our cherished and heartfelt beliefs. Each of us had to decide the path we would now take. Some elected to hold to the church's original beliefs, not accepting these changes, and the church began to produce splinter groups. We had received "new wine," and when new wine is poured into an old wineskin, it splits. When an old church receives new truth, there will be splits. The old church had to become a "new wineskin" in order to receive the new wine. It did, and the new wineskin now bears very little resemblance to the old. (For more specific information on this part of my background, visit this site . Marvel at what God can do to lead the greater part of entire church to a greater understanding of his truth!)
M y family and I now enjoy fellowshiping occasionally with other Christians of various denominations. We also hosted a small group in our home for a time. We accept all Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ, and worship with them wherever they are found, regardless of the name on the sign out on the lawn or over the door. Someone in a chat room once made a remark about "church-hopping" while I was describing my ministry, and I asked how one could "church-hop" when there is only one church. The person was unable to reply. I now clearly see the church as one body, the Body of Christ. I also understand that not everyone in the church sees the church in exactly this way. Tragically, many outside the church do not see it in this way, either.
W hat is the point I am trying to make? One of the things that God taught us was that we are not alone. We have many brethren, in many churches, even though there is only one true church. The church I attended was absolutely right about there being only one true church, but, contrary to our beliefs, it wasn't made up of our members alone. Now, our group, who had called other churches "false churches" and even worse, found itself publicly apologizing to these other Christian denominations and their members for our long-time adversarial stance toward them. As I began to realize the implications of all of this, my confusion and grief at losing something for which I had given so many years of my life began to be replaced with great joy and elation. God had answered my prayer! He had led me to the true church! It was not to be found exclusively in any of those church buildings that surrounded our home in Nashville. It was not to be found exclusively in any denomination at all. God is so much bigger than that. In Isaiah 66:1-2, God says, "The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house that you build for me? And where is the place of my rest? For all those things my hand has made, but to this man I will look, to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word."
I t became apparent that no denomination, congregation, or other sub-group held exclusive claim to the presence of God. Each Christian has a relationship with God, regardless of, and sometimes in spite of, the place where they have been "going to church." And the fellowship of his people exists in the bond of the Holy Spirit. Every Christian in whom the Spirit dwells is responsible for accepting, loving and fellowshipping with every other brother and sister in Christ. The martyr Stephen spoke to a group of people who thought that they were the exclusive people of God. (Their ancestors had been God's nation, his covenant people, for a while.) These people could not accept Stephen's words, so they killed him on the spot with stones. In this final sermon, Stephen recounted the history of the Israelites, how they had possessed, at one time, the tabernacle of God (Acts 7:44).. He told them they had been the "church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38), God's "one true church." Then, before he died, he quoted from Isaiah 66:1-2, mentioned above. Stephen said, "Solomon built him a house (Solomon built a physical temple to God), however, the most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says, 'Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool. What house will you build for me, or what is the place of my rest? Hasn't my hand made all these things?'"
I f the most High does not dwell in "temples made with hands," then where does he dwell? He tells us in his word: "Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you are also builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:19-22)
T he church itself is the holy temple of God. There is only one temple, and there is only one church. It is "built" of each and every Christian. God lives here, in this temple built of Christians, through the Spirit. Jesus Christ is called the chief cornerstone. There is one building, supported and strengthened and held together on this chief cornerstone. There are not many, many buildings, built on only one chief cornerstone. Neither are there many separate buildings, built on many, many chief cornerstones. There is only one chief cornerstone, and there is only one building built upon it. This is the authoritative, unrebuttable, true word of God on the matter. There is no valid argument to the contrary. We have no choice but to acknowledge the truth of God's word as it decides the issue. Christians have no excuse whatsoever for permitting any kind of division or schism in the Body of Christ.
T hese words to the ancient church at Ephesus were written to deal with seemingly impossible differences between Jews and Gentiles in the early church who were called together to be "fellow citizens with the saints." The same words apply to us today. All that remains for us is to come before God and ask him to give us a clear vision of the church as he sees it, and to fill us with love for all our Christian brothers and sisters. He is the Almighty God, my fellow saints! Do we trust him? There will most certainly be obstacles along the way as we work for oneness, and at times I'm sure it will appear that we are only creating more schisms. We must not lose faith! Don't believe what other men and women say about it. Do not accept all their reasons (excuses) for denominational apartheid, division and warfare. Study and see what the word of God says about unity, and about divisions, believe what it says. Then we must trust God to accomplish his clearly expressed will. There is again a new wineskin being made ready to receive new wine. That new wineskin is the complete church. We will come together in Christ. Please choose to work as instruments of God to make it come to pass, and be a part of this great Christian church, living in the bond of the Holy Spirit of love.
T his is only a brief overview of a part of my life, sharing some of my personal experiences and allowing you a small glimpse of the thoughts of my heart. If you share this vision of Christians united in love, please write us and let us know. Then, do what you can to help lead our Christian brothers and sisters back together, to Christian reunion. We were together for a brief moment in time, at the beginning, when the church first partook of the Holy Spirit of love. God's word says we will be together again, as a witness to the world of the power of the the Great and Almighty God. We were destined to be a living witness of our loving Father working in and through his converted children, calling the people of the nations to the true church of the anointed Messiah who is sent from God to the world for the salvation of his beloved family.
P lease pray for this ministry.
John F. Davis,
Christian Reunion Ministries
Articles and Sermons
Christian Reunion Fellowship eGroup
(An online interactive fellowship with other Christians. Please consider joining us.)
Read Guestbook | Sign Guestbook
to submit a message.
or contact us at our postal address
Copyright © Christian Reunion Ministries. All rights reserved.