Once I heard of a church here in Africa that called itself the church of the, “intellectuals.” Obviously I didn’t qualify for membership. Yes, I do have papers, degrees, certificates, a longish cv (because I’ve lived a while now) but I only make use of them when necessary (i.e., proving qualifications and experience). Don’t get me wrong, I love studying. My husband often says if there’s a book lying around I will read it – and he’s right. However, I felt grieved when I heard of this gathering of people based on their perceived intellect. I say perceived because intelligence isn’t always measured by education; there are many who have earned numerous degrees but fail to produce results in the “smart” department.
When hearing of this church for “intellectuals,” I wondered what was the standard for qualification? Was it necessary for one to finish high school to be accepted? Or was a 2,4,8, or 12 year degree required? On this continent, even having finishing secondary school as a qualifier drastically reduced the number of qualified applicants making the church of “intellectuals” an elite society indeed.
Everywhere I go around the world, it seems people group themselves according to social preferences. It’s rare, if not impossible, to find a city in the world where everyone finds common ground on which to stand. The poor, who spend each day working for their next meal, find it difficult to understand the rich, who are busy trying to maintain their excessive lifestyles. The educated who understand a bit about science, find it difficult to communicate with the uneducated who are bound by folklore and superstition of the region. Unconsciously the lines separating society are drawn and the all-too-familiar divisions surface to hamstring the progress of unity.
Ephesians 2:14-18 NLT “For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.”
The things that divide us must bow their knees when confronted by the reality that in the sacrifice of Christ which supplies us with what we need: peace. The cross removes hostility, the cross removes the wall that separates, the cross removes what divides – and this peace is impossible to attain without the cross. Peace that unites has evaded and continues to evade every system created by mankind throughout history and will continue to evade us unless the cross is given entrance.
Yes, I know what many are thinking at this point, “Why are Christians so divided?” The answer is simple: there’s a lack of surrender to the work of the cross. Were all believers to surrender to the point that is seen in Ephesians 2 above, the divisions that plague us would disappear almost effortlessly. The enemy (who is Satan, yes, he is real) knows this and works to divide in order to keep the church void of power. This surrender to the cross doesn’t rely on what others may or may not be doing – I am only responsible for my surrender and Christ is the One who then draws those together who have surrendered to be connected together in His body to form His church (Colossians 2:19).
But first of all, it’s my surrender.