It Takes a Citywide Church

By Francis Frangipane

It is incredible, but many Christians actually believe that the only unity there will be in the last days is in the apostate church. The very spirit they think they are avoiding, the antichrist, is what has divided them from the rest of the church! (see I John 2:18-19) It is simply unscriptural and a sin for the believing, citywide church of Jesus Christ not to maintain the unity of the Spirit!

United in Worship and War
One need not be a biblical scholar to recognize the Jews had to be uncompromisingly united in their worship of God. All Israel was required to come to Jerusalem three times a year to worship during the feasts. If their worship was compromised to where they began to serve the pagan gods of the region, they were quickly defeated in their battles.

However, in addition to unity in worship, they also had to be united in warfare. Unless they embraced their battle as "one man," their victory was rarely assured. (See Jud 6:16;20:1,8,11;I Sam 11:7; Ez 3:1; Neh 8:1)

From the beginning, the heart of the Lord has been for us to be our brother's keeper. Today, He is calling us to cease fighting with one another and to become a family that fights for each other.

There is an Old Testament story which captures the heart we are seeking. The Israelites were in the land of Gilead about to cross the Jordan River. However, the tribes of Reuben and Gad, which had amassed much livestock, asked that their inheritance be given first, as the land on which they stood was suitable for grazing. Their request angered Moses for he assumed they sought to divide from the nation in order to gain their individual inheritance (Num 32).

Yet, Reuben and Gad had a greater vision than Moses realized. The declaration they made to Moses is the attitude we must have concerning the other churches in our city. Reuben said, "We will build here sheepfolds for our livestock and cities for our little ones; but we ourselves will be armed ready to go before the sons of Israel, until we have brought them to their place..." (Num 32:16-17). They refused to put down their swords until there was peace and prosperity for all of Israel.

So also for us, we must realize we are all part of the same body. When one congregation is in a battle, we are all in battle. While we should, of course, develop our local congregations, yet individuals should be trained to stand with the rest of the body of Christ in the city. Imagine if the attitude of Rueben and Gad, "We will not return to our homes until every one of the sons of Israel has possessed his inheritance" (Num 32:18), became our attitude as well.

Dry Bones or an Exceedingly Great Army?

One obstacle we must overcome is the illusion that we, because of our ability to "rightly divide the word," are more spiritual than those in other churches. This deception infects churches across the board. Consequently, we remain divided, kept in isolation by our own spiritual pride, never discerning that the enemy has the church down the street similarly thinking they are more spiritual than we.

However, as God delivers us all of our arrogance, as we truly become more spiritual, we see that we are not called to judge other churches but to lay down our lives for them. Indeed, what God is doing today is very much like the period of restoration when the Jews returned from Babylon. In those days, Nehemiah supervised the building of the wall around Jerusalem. He instructed the workers to carry a building tool in one hand and a sword in the other (Neh 4:17). If one section of the wall came under attack, a trumpet was sounded and all the Jews rallied to defend that area.

So also it must be for us. Many times the enemy has been able to defeat a particular church only because the rest of the local body of Christ was indifferent or unaware of the battle. In this context especially, we must perceive that it takes a citywide church to win the citywide war.

I hear the reply: "The churches in our city are dead and we alone are left." Such was Elijah's lament, but God assured him there were yet 7,000 who were faithful. Ezekiel also thought he stood alone, but God brought him out to a valley of dry bones and commanded him to prophesy. After the bones came together, then the Spirit entered and, behold, they were " exceedingly great army" (Ezek 37:10b).

Today, God has an "exceedingly great army" He is preparing. Through them He intends to pull down the strongholds in their cities. We must be connected in Christ before the Spirit will anoint us for effective spiritual warfare. We need prophetic vision to see beyond the apparent deadness of our local churches. We must perceive the army God is raising up in this hour, and embrace anointed intercession born of such vision.

Please hear me. We can have national days of prayer, regional weeks of supplication---we can even call tens of thousands to pray for specific areas to change, but if the church which dwells in that area is bound and divided by strife, the enemy will not be plundered. Whenever we pray against the spiritual forces of wickedness over a region, our first line of offense is praying for the churches to be united in their worship and their warfare. Why pray for the church? If "there is jealousy and selfish ambition" in the church, there will inevitably be "disorder and every evil thing" in that locality (James 3:16).

Therefore, we conclude: It takes a citywide church to win the citywide war. All of our individual evangelistic programs, our Sunday teachings and aggressive attempts to bind principalities and powers are only of limited value if we, the born-again church, remain divided. However, even as one person"s transformation from carnality to the image of Christ can revolutionize a church, so the transformation of the citywide church into the image of Christ can revolutionize a city.

Let's pray: Lord Jesus, forgive us for our spiritual pride, of the way we think too highly of ourselves. Lord, I personally confess that I need my brothers and sisters in other churches. God, I see that we cannot win our war if we remain divided. Lord, unite us to pray in the Spirit and to see our churches and our cities flooded with Your Presence! Amen.