E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. This is a Biblical concept found everywhere from Isaiah 66 to Romans 12. God takes people from all nations and peoples, no matter how unlikely, and makes them one in Christ, often to the surprise of those who currently see themselves as “the one true church.”
Having only human eyes with which to see, we can certainly declare some things: people are known by their fruit, disciples of Christ by their love, and salvation is made easy to grasp for the one who seeks. Beyond that, though, it is only God who searches and knows the heart of man (Romans 8:27), and heaven may be a surprising place to many. The Pharisees, by way of example, were told by Jesus Himself, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.” (Matthew 21:31) Rahab, likewise, though a prostitute, was ranked along Abraham and Moses.
This is humbling for me to consider. My knowledge often puffs me up, but it is love which truly builds up. A person’s current situation in life is not necessarily their stopping place, and we can be easily thrown off by our own feelings of righteousness.
God has said, “Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins,” but notice that He still said, “My people.” And it is true that some congregations are on dangerous spiritual ground. Yet while the church in Sardis was considered almost wholly depraved, God described even that place as containing some who were truly in Christ. (Rev 18; Rev 3)
This is of great importance. Amazing Christians exist in places you would find unlikely. Out of many, we are one. “So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:5)
Christ’s church is not determined by solely labels, or by buildings, or by where “true Christians should be;” it is nothing physical like that. It is a spiritual Kingdom; it is one body. It is all of those saved in Jesus the Christ, wherever they may be, and it may surprise us. When we find someone trapped in a Sardis, we should help them, and if possible, help the entire populace of that Sardis.
First, of course, we should see what’s in our own eye.
With love, always,