Life is filled with boundaries and divisions. These are good. According to the creation account in Genesis, creating boundaries was a crucial part of how God brought order out of chaos.
God first created a boundary between light and darkness. He then separated between the waters above and the waters below. He made a boundary between dry land and water. He differentiated birds and fish from other (land-dwelling animals). And most memorably, he distinguished between man and women.
Creating boundaries, then, is a natural part of human existence. Even today there are distinctions within other economies. We distinguish between nationalities, socio-economics (poor, middle-class, and rich), educational background and experience (marked by the traditional Western grade and degree system), political parties, and the list goes on and on. Once again, these distinctions are goodin that they help us organize and categorize life in a way that makes things manageable. Like in Genesis, it brings order to chaos.
There are other distinctions, however, that aren’t good. These distinctions are driven by, and likewise reinforce, negative prejudices (like racism, bigotry, and nationalism, for example) that pervade society.
Christianity itself has its share of divisions, some are good, some are bad. There is a historical distinction between Eastern Christianity (mostly synonymous with the Russian Orthodox Church), and Western Christianity. Within Western Christianity, there is a distinction between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Within Protestantism there are liberals and Evangelicals (this difference hinges on stances regarding doctrines concerning the Bible and its authority for contemporary use and application in the Church). Furthermore, within Protestantism there is a distinction between Calvinists, Wesleyan-Arminians, and others.
The Center for Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary estimates that there are currently 47,000 Protestant denominations in the world today. That is a lot.
The irony of the plurality of Christianity is that the one thingthat was to set Christians a part in the world of religiosity was to be its unity. One of the very last and thereby most important things that Jesus prayed for was that his people be unified (John 17:20-23).
Furthermore, Psalm 133 is an attestation to the importance of the Church’s unity as a witness to the world. In sum, Psalm 133 is saying that more than anything else, it is the unity of God’s people that will show the world that they are His.
After all, he is one God(Deut. 6:4). When the church is divided, it sends the message that God is likewise divided. The problem with sending the message that God is divided is that this is precisely what set Israel apart in the world—that God is one. This point of Judeo-Christianity theology is so important that it’s number one in the list of the Ten Commandments! (Ex. 20). This is one of the unique things that Judeo-Christian faith had to offer a world of overly-confused plurality: a single God.
Psalm 1 reminds us that while there certainly is a high-level of plurality in the church that reaches across gender, socio-economic, national, racial, and educational boundaries, the people of God are to be unified. From God’s perspective, there are two groups: (1) His covenant people who love and obey him, and (2) those who disobey him and do not love him.
Setting aside all the groups and camps that exist today, from biological to political, which camp are you in? On the day of judgement, God will not ask, “Did you vote red, or blue?” Nor will he ask, “Catholic, or Protestant?” What he will ask is, “Did you know me, obey me, and love me?”