Now, more than ever, unity in the body of Messiah is required for the survival of the Messianic faith. Yet, unity is something sorely lacking in the body of the Messiah. Hebraic congregations are competing with one another for congregants, congregational leaders are at each other’s throats over petty slights, and congregations are tearing themselves asunder over minor concerns. With the whole world seemingly at increasing enmity with scriptural teachings, unity must be restored, or the body of Messiah threatens to rip itself apart.
In Yochanon (John) 13:34-35 [Complete Jewish Bible], the Master tells us, “I am giving you a new command: that you keep on loving each other. In the same way that I have loved you, you are also to keep on loving each other. Everyone will know that you are my talmidim [students or followers] by the fact that you have love for each other.” Just as obedience to the commandments of Moses and keeping the Sabbath were signs that a person was Jewish, love for one’s fellow believers in the Messiah was the sign the Master prescribed that a person was truly a follower of the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).
Everyone who professes faith in the Messiah Yeshua and obeys His commandments, as stated in I Corinthians 12:27, “together constitute[s] the body of the Messiah, and individually [are] parts of it.” As members of the body of the Messiah, Shaul’s (Paul’s) words in Ephesians 4 instruct us on how we are to behave. As Ephesians 4:2-6 state: “Always be humble, gentle and patient, bearing with one another in love, and making every effort to preserve the unity the Spirit gives through the binding power of shalom [peace]. There is one body and one Spirit, just as when you were called you were called to one hope. And there is one Lord, one trust, one immersion, and one God, the Father of all, who rules over all, works through all and is in all.” We have one faith in common. We are not called to be members of the MJAA, the UMJC, the Sacred Name assemblies, any Christian denomination, or even Dai Mission Ministries; instead, we are called to be members of the body of the Messiah — an organization, as C.S. Lewis described it in The Screwtape Letters, “spread out throughout all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners.” We are a vast and timeless armada of peacemakers, and love is our weapon!
Yet, we do not see the Hebraic members of the body of the Messiah acting as this timeless army of the Lord’s love ought to act! Time and time again, we see naught but division, strife, and nonsensical, childish, “he-said/she-said” disunity in the body of the Messiah. We here at Dai Mission Ministries find this sickening and appalling! Not only does this make the entirety of Messianic believers appear like fools and liars to non-believers, but this disunity is as dangerous to the body of Messiah as a deadly poison! Was it not the Master Himself who said in Mattityahu (Matthew) 12:25, Marcos (Mark) 3:25, and Luke 11:17: “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not survive“?
During the time of the Messiah’s earthly ministry, Judaism had become such a divided house. The one faith founded by Moses and sustained by the Prophets had devolved into sects of squabbling children bearing gang names like “Sadducee”, “Pharisee”, “Essene”, or “Zealot”. Yeshua came to undo all that, to create a new house that would not be torn asunder by petty differences and infighting! His sect was simply called “the Way”, and it was meant to supplant all other so-called “ways” and unite its believers together in love and unity against the sin, violence, and disparity of the Gentile world.
In the beginning, the members of the body of Messiah “were one in heart and soul, and no one claimed any of his possessions for himself, but everyone shared everything he had,” as stated in the Acts of the Apostles 4:32. Yet, over time, as more members were added to the body — some of them Gentile — new divisions arose within the body of Messiah, and that same disgusting spirit of disunity arose. Angered by this disunity, Shaul spoke against it in I Corinthians 1:10-13:
Nevertheless, brothers, I call on you in the name of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah to agree, all of you, in what you say, and not to let yourselves remain split into factions but be restored to having a common mind and a common purpose. For some of Chloe’s people have made it known to me, my brothers, that there are quarrels among you. I say this because one of you says, “I follow Shaul”; another says, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Kefa [Simon Peter]”; while still another says, “I follow the Messiah!” Has the Messiah been split in pieces? Was it Shaul who was put to death on a stake for you? Were you immersed into the name of Shaul?
Nay! We know Who went to the cross for our sins, and Acts 2:38 tells us in Whose glorious and radiant name we are baptized in. Just as Shaul says, it isn’t his name, but Yeshua’s name by which we are saved! Why, then, do we divide ourselves into factions anew?
Sadly, history shows us that these divides within the body of Messiah were not healed, as both Yeshua and Shaul instructed. Instead, they were worsened. Within two centuries, the body of Messiah had divided itself between the teachings of Origin and Tertullian, the teachings of Arius, the teachings of the Gnostics, the teachings of other varied sects of Christianity, and the original instructions of the Messiah. Eventually, the Roman Emperor — Constantine, himself a professing Christian (though one possessing ludicrous and heretical anti-Semitic views) — attempted to define an official doctrinal stance for his unique brand of Christianity with the Council of Nicea in 325 CE, then he attempted to unify the disparate factions of Christianity under the banner of this newly-christened Roman Catholic Church. (Note: this is an over-simplification of events, but one we feel is true to the spirit of events that transpired at that time.)
You can’t force spiritual unity through church edicts, imperial legislation, or political violence, though. Such unity can only come through prayer, fasting, choosing love and kindness over selfishness and pride, meditation on Scripture, and wilful obedience and submission to the edicts of the Messiah Himself. Without these, unity cannot be attained or sustained for any length of time, as Christianity would soon discover.
First, the Greek Orthodox Church split from the Roman Catholic Church. Eventually, the Protestant Reformation brought about new churches: the Lutherans, the Calvinists, the Methodists, the Anabaptists, the Anglicans, and others. Later, the Puritans broke away from the Anglicans. After that, the descendants of the Puritans would form new churches — the Adventists, the Baptists, Pentecostals, the “Jesus People”, and more — in the New World. New churches and Christian movements are being born even to this day as new divisions and arguments arise between congregants.
The Messianic Jewish movement was born into this American Protestant religious upheaval. While the initial goals of the movement was good — to bring Christianity full-circle by restoring the faith to its Jewish roots in the Torah being one of those lofty goals — the Messianic movement eventually fell prey to the same foolish divisiveness that cut the legs out from under Christianity hundreds of years before. Now, not only do Messianic denominations like the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA) and the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC) exist, but other “daughter movements” like the so-called “Sacred Name” movement” or the “Hebrew Roots” movement (among others) exist as well! If any of these groups were really doing their jobs right, we wouldn’t need any alliances, unions, or movements because we’d already be dwelling among each other in the perfect unity of Adonai!
If you’re reading this and thinking to yourselves, “That’s why I’m glad I’m a member of my congregation, the Church of So-and-So! We don’t do any of that!”, then you’re already missing the point.
The true faith doesn’t operate under denominations, and it doesn’t need any fancy new names ascribed to it. In I Corinthians 10:1-4, Shaul tells us what the original members of the faith of Moses — original Mosaic Judaism — looked like: “All of them were guided by the pillar of cloud, and they all passed through the sea, and in connection with the cloud and with the sea they all immersed themselves into Moshe [Moses], also they all ate the same food from the Spirit, and they all drank the same drink from the Spirit — for they drank from a Spirit-sent Rock which followed them, and that Rock was the Messiah.”
Shaul goes on to warn us that this unity didn’t stop them from screwing up and losing that unity, and that’s something we need to beware of! Yet, this is a warning we are ignoring! Just as the quarreling body parts in I Corinthians 12:12-27 are at war with one another, so, too, are modern Messianic congregations at war with each other, and this disunity must end, or our enemies will band together and end us… and we may not have the favor of the Lord to save us when that happens!
Psalm 133:1-2 says, “Oh, how good, how pleasant it is for brothers to live together in harmony. It is like fragrant [anointing] oil on the head that runs down over the beard, over the beard of Aharon [the high priest], and flows down on the collar of his robes.” Powerful anointing from the Lord comes from unity! II Corinthians 13:11 tells us, “be of one mind, live in shalom — and the God of love and shalom will be with you.” Adonai Himself dwells with those at unity with one another! How awesome and how powerful is this! As the Master says in Mattityahu 18:19-20, “I tell you that if two of you here on earth agree about anything people ask, it will be for them from my Father in heaven. For wherever two or three are assembled in my name, I am there with them.“
Romans 14:1-12 describes how disagreements in the body of Messiah are acceptable, but they are never an acceptable reason for disunity. As verse one says, DO NOT “get into arguments over opinions.” These verses even used adherence to dietary regulations or calendar observances as examples, and I have seen more aggression over those two issues in modern Messianism than I care to admit! What these verses — as well as James 2:8-10‘s verses against favoritism — show us is that, regardless of our individual disparities in how we keep the commandments of the Messiah, we are all still ONE in the Messiah and must act like it, lest our enemies take advantage of our disarray and throw us into further chaos! We live in troubled times, and now is the time to throw aside petty differences and to come together in unity!
Think of what we will say to our Lord on Judgment Day! As Romans 14:11-12 (quoting Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 45:23) reminds us: “‘As I live, says Adonai, every knee will bend before me, and every tongue will publicly acknowledge God.’ So then, every one of us will have to give an account of himself to God.“