Never A Fractured Family in God’s Kingdom

The United Methodist Hymnal has a prayer “For the Unity of Christ’s Body” (UMH 564) which goes by the following: “Help each of us, gracious God, to live in such magnanimity and restraint that the Head of the church may never have cause to say to any one of us, “This is my body, broken by you.” Amen.” (emphasis added)

When I first came across this prayer, I must confess that I was amused by the author’s intentional choice of using the familiar words from our Holy Communion ritual, “This is my body which is given for you”, to adapt it to caution us and to pray that Christ may never say these words to us, “This is my body, broken by you”.

Can the Body of Christ be broken? Yes. The Church has split many times. 

The Church was one until the Great Schism in 1054 where the intense differences between the churches in the East and West Schism led to its acrimonious split, resulting in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. 

The Western church would split again in the 16th century because of the Protestant Reformation led by Protestant reformers such as Martin Luther, Thomas Cranmer and John Calvin. Although the reformers were able to restore what they believed were key teachings of the church, there were also losses which we continue to experience as ripple-effects of this split; such as Protestant Christians’ perception of Catholic Christians as non-Christians, and suspicions of heresy in sacramental theology and contemplative spirituality. 

The reasons for these splits are not always simple nor can be limited to mere theological reasons. 

Can Wesley Methodist Church become fractured as well? I hope we will never become a fractured family in God’s kingdom.

In his letter to the Corinthian Church, Paul made this appeal to them, “Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you but that you be knit together in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been made clear to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters.” (1 Corinthians 1:10–11, NRSVUE)

Paul was addressing the division in the Corinthian Church by appealing to be united in two ways. 

Firstly, he urged them to be of the same mind. The word ‘mind’ can refer to sharing the same way of thinking, understanding, attitude or opinion. For a community of people to be able to share the same way of thinking, we need to have similar convictions and core values. As Methodists, we are guided by the Bible and the Book of Discipline such as its Articles of Religion and Social Principles. Although we have no issues with the Scripture and statements of faith, we may differ in our interpretations. This is why in order for us to be of the same mind, we need to offer safe space to one another so that we may hear each other out before we jump to conclusions or shut them out prematurely. 

A safe place is a place filled with humility, honour and healing. Allow me to elaborate.

An American Methodist Pastor, Morgan Guyton, describes a safe space as “a community rooted strongly enough in grace that everyone is safe in the sense that they will not be mocked, abused or thrown out regardless of what they say. It’s a judgement-free zone where it’s okay to have questions, doubts, and passionate opinions as long as we speak and listen in love.” 1

In these safe spaces, people honour our earnest questions and desire to know God and one another better. People are ready to think the best of others and they choose to listen first, instead of being condescending and lashing out at them for their ignorance. Communities with these people are soaked with an atmosphere of honour as they value others as people made in the image of God.

In these communities, these people are humble, and they display attributes as described by Paul in Philippians 2:3–11, NRSVUE, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or empty conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” 

They are not only places of humility and honour but also healing. Their conversations and their silence mediate God’s redemptive presence and power into each other’s lives. As they offer space in their presence for their friends to wonder aloud their doubts and frustrations with God, they discern how they may speak, act or even graciously do nothing to interrupt, so that their friends may discover God’s voice and presence for themselves.

Have you found such places in Wesley where there is safe space? I have! 

I have been blessed to find them in Small Groups, Alpha groups, Companions in Christ groups, Strangely Warmed Retreat groups and Discipleship Bands. Some of their stories have also been featured in our TIDINGS articles. If you have not successfully found one, I encourage you to take steps to explore any of these groups. 

Strangely Warmed Retreat group
Church camp group
Small Group

Secondly, Paul urged the Corinthian Church to be united in purpose. 

God has blessed us with a variety of gifts and talents which were never intended for glorifying ourselves. A practical way which we can be united in purpose is to offer our gifts and talents to contribute meaningfully to the purposes of our church. 

An example of this unity of purpose can be experienced in our weekly worship services. The worship service is filled with a variety of components led by a variety of people. The preacher leads us through the preaching of God’s Word, yet he or she will eventually stop and sit down to allow the vocalists to lead us in the song of dedication to respond to God. Sometimes the vocalists are silent in worship. These moments of silence are occasionally led by our musicians playing solo on their instruments as we meditate on God’s Word and respond quietly to Him. 

To become united in purpose also means learning to know when we take the lead, and when to give way so that others may take the lead to minister and to glorify God. Letting others lead will require humility on our part, and our willingness to help them shine for God, even if we will not be appreciated or affirmed for it.

How are you, through your service, giving way to God and His people today?

Will you join me to pray for the unity of Christ’s Body? 

“Help each of us, gracious God, to live in such magnanimity and restraint that the Head of the church may never have cause to say to any one of us, “This is my body, broken by you.” Amen.” (UMH 564)

 1Morgan Guyton, “Christians should be creating safe spaces, not ridiculing them” 26 August 2016,

Read also: Becoming a Family of God Because the Love of God Transcends All: Wesley Church Camp 2023

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