United in Worship and War

By Francis Frangipane
(En EspaƱol)

One need not be a Bible scholar to recognize that Israel was called to be uncompromisingly united in their worship of God. Three times a year each tribe was required to come to Jerusalem to worship during the feasts. However, in addition to unity in worship, they also had to be united in warfare. Unless they ultimately faced the battle as "one man," their victory was rarely assured. (See Judges 6:16; 20:1, 8, 11; 1 Sam. 11:7; Ezra 3:1.)

Today we are still called to be united in our worship of the one true God and also to be united in our fight against sin and our spiritual enemies. There is an Old Testament story that reveals the heart we are seeking. The Israelites were in the land of Gilead about to cross the Jordan River (Num. 32). 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.
However, Reuben and Gad had a vision greater than Moses realized. Their words to Moses capture the attitude we must have concerning the other congregations in our cities. They 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 every tribe had gained its inheritance.

Truly, each congregation must maintain its individual "sheepfolds." God is not doing away from individual, local fellowships. We need the sense of family and continuity that comes from the family of god -- providing spiritual shelter to raise our "little ones." However, we must also be united with the greater body of Christ, even identifying with the struggle of other born-again Christians in our community.

You see, although we are divided by "tribes" (denominations), we are all part of the same spiritual nation: the Kingdom of God. And while we all have unique battles facing us, our collective and conscious unity under Christ's anointing brings terror to the heart of our enemy. I believe it is this united house of the Lord, this unity of worship and warfare, that holds the hope of turning our cities back toward God.

I am not alone in my view concerning God's call for unity in the larger house of the Lord. Indeed, in this hour the Most High is raising up strong, seasoned leaders who are equipping their saints to pray for other congregations in their city -- especially when those churches are facing increased battle or conflict. It is not enough if I gain my inheritance if my brethren still have enemies to conquer. We need each other.

My prayer is that the attitude in Reuben and Gad will become the stance of the born-again church in each city: "We will not return to our homes until every one of the sons of Israel has possessed his inheritance" (v. 18).

Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, When the Many Are One available at www.arrowbookstore.com.