Seeking unity in the church

Published 8:25 pm Thursday, July 14, 2016

By Kenya Smith

As a Christian, church is essential for my growth.

During my studies at Regent, I was blessed to experience different church environments. I was raised in the typical African-American church most of my life, and I never thought that I would enjoy a church experience that was very different from mine.

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When I did my studies at Regent, I sometimes attended a student-led worship service called Unchapel on Thursday nights. On Sunday mornings and nights, I attended Wave Church. Attending Unchapel and Wave Church broadened my view about the church and worship.

First, the two services introduced me to a new cultural atmosphere where I worshipped God with believers from different ethnic, national, denominational, political and socioeconomic backgrounds.

When I look at those two places, I see unity in diverse environments. There is a saying that Sunday is the most segregated day in the week, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

I remember a message that talked about the importance of community. One of the key principles that a preacher discussed was that the body of Christ is filled with members that are different regarding race, skin color, nationality, politics, interests, dislikes, and socioeconomic status. However, the members of the body of Christ are united because of Jesus.

The preacher compared the body of Christ to the Muppets. The Muppets are very united, despite their differences. You would rarely see them disjointed or scattered. Of course, they can get on each other’s nerves, but they continue to stick together.

If you would ask the Muppets what is root of their unity, they would mention one factor: Jim Henson. He created all of them, and they know that Henson loved them and he made sure that they stayed united, regardless of the disagreements, the differences and the flaws.

Just as Jim Henson was behind the unity of the Muppets, Jesus should bring us unity as the body of Christ. It does not matter what color our skin is, the box we check on Election Day, whether we worship at a small church or a megachurch, whether we prefer hymns, spirituals, Kirk Franklin, or Hillsong or how old we are: Jesus should be the focus of the church.

We can argue and practice tribalism and gossip about other churches, or we can conclude that only Jesus matters. What we did with Jesus and God’s word will be the ultimate factor.

In the book of Acts, salvation was opened to Gentiles. Caught up in their legalistic and tribalistic way of doing things, some Jews became upset with this new change. As a result, they tried to create a false doctrine that required Gentiles to be circumcised to receive salvation. However, their plans failed, and the church continued to grow.

Knowing that Heaven will be filled with people from different ethnicities, nationalities and life experiences, why don’t we worship like that in this life?

Kenya Smith is a Suffolk native and recent graduate from Regent University. Email her at