A few weeks ago I had the privilege to attend Catalyst Conference with our staff. The theme of the conference was “Uncommon Fellowship.” Meaning basically, that within the body of Christ, fellowship occurs that is not common; it transcends race, culture, ethnic background, language, etc. It is Jesus who brings this unity and common fellowship to a gathering of people (the church) who have believed in Him and confessed Him as Lord. Speakers from all different nations, races, and backgrounds spoke and challenged the church of today to be about cultivating unity within the collective body of Christ, and in doing so, shine a light on the gospel to a deeply divided world. The message was clear: while there are denominational and doctrinal lines that divide the global body of Christ, a unified, not divided, church with “uncommon fellowship” will be the most powerful witness for Christ in a world that desperately needs Him.
In today’s text we see the account of seven of Israel’s tribes being given their allotments of land in the Promised Land. It is interesting to me that while Israel was one collective nation; there were specific tribes within the nation as a whole that had specific purposes. For example, the Levites were designated to be the priesthood of Israel (v.7). So, while they were collectively one nation they also had individual tribes that distinguished them from their fellow countryman. One verse that jumped out to me today in this passage in relation to this is verse 3:
So Joshua said to the people of Israel, “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you?
It seems as if now that the vast majority of the Promised Land has been conquered and “lays subdued before them” the individual tribes seem sluggish to move forward and take their portion. Up until this point Israel had been fully united as one nation with one common focus and mission, to conquer the land God had given them. Now, that it has essentially been conquered they seem less enthusiastic in their individual tribes to urgently move forward with what God has for them.
The parallel I’m trying to get at is this: When Israel was completely unified, clear on their mission, and all tribes were pulling together, they were strong and effective in carrying out God’s plan for them (They conquered the land). Not only that, they were less hesitant. The same is true for the church today. As a part of the collective kingdom of God we should seek unity and not division. We must rally around the clear message, mission, and calling of the gospel that unifies all believers to be an effective light for Christ in this world. To be clear, I am not saying that we unite with others who claim to be churches that are clearly heretical in their theology and doctrine. I am saying that among Biblically sound churches we must seek to be a unified front for the gospel in a world that desperately needs to see that.
Some thoughts to consider today: Are you bringing greater unity or division to the body of Christ with your words and actions? In what ways have you experienced “uncommon fellowship” with others not like you because of the gospel of Jesus? How can you continue to cultivate those types of relationships in your life and in the lives of the people you serve and lead?
By: Matt Mofield