“For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that He hateth putting away:” (Malachi 2:16a)
In other words, don’t get divorced. And don’t get married until you’re more than sure. But I believe it applies in a broader sense, too. If God sent Jesus to reunite us to Him, it should follow that the closer we got to God, like not-quite-parallel lines, we also would get closer together–to one another. The twelfth chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is a wide-scale plea for balance within the body. Verse twelve says “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” He says in the next that each on of us has “been all made to drink into one Spirit.” The following passage is a metaphorical griping amongst “ears” and “hands” and “eyes” as to who has the more important role. He then says plainly that God has “given more abundant honor to that part which lacked:” (verse 24) So next time you see someone alone and lonely, know that that person very well may be the one for whom God has reserved a special call that would in turn lead into a very prestigious award in the hereafter. But this isn’t our concern. It’s hard enough to stay together–whether we attend the same church, or even stay for that matter–as a body.
God tells Ezekiel (22:30) that He “sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land.” God wants to bless but He can’t if there’s no one there to receive it. Paul says “That there be no schism in the body” (12:25). The idea behind that word (schisma) is the same as “gap”. There’s a breach in the body. There must be healing and wholeness for it to function as it was intended. A more-than-rhetorical question: have we in the West not seen what God wants to do through us because we are not “likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” (Philippians 2:2)? Food for thought. There is such a blessing on those who walk in the Spirit with one another. It’s otherworldly.
The Hebrew word for “gap” is perets. It’s the same as Pharez, who was one of Judah’s twins and in the genealogy of Christ. The funny thing is, a descendant of Pharez is called a “Partsite” which is etymologically the same as Pharisee. The connotation in Hebrew is “separate”. It’s a double-edged sword in that while one could “separate” the wheat from the chaff (see Psalm 1:4, 35:5), or the sheep from the goats (see Matthew 25:33), it also could be turned on those who God wants kept in. Only Jesus has the authority to separate on this level. We are called to maintain the sanctity of the Body as unto the Lord.
It’s a wide spectrum to be sure. If we’re all following God to the best of our ability and God speaks to the heart of one or another as to the heart condition of a certain person in the church, Paul outlines codes of conduct for either seeing them healed or ousted. Just know that each and every instance should be bathed in prayer because we don’t see hearts in and of ourselves. We very well may see malnourished “eyes” (no vision, blindness) or “ears” (dullness/deafness) but the “heart-realm” is exclusively God’s domain. And if it’s straying into hurting the other members, God will show you or another what to do.
“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.” (Romans 11:7-10)
It is a wonderful privilege and gift to be a member of Christ’s body. We share in a relationship and fellowship that thousands, if not millions, of people prior to Christ yearned for. While all may be well and good for them now, life did not have the grace and ease and beauty that (I would say) we take for granted on a daily basis. Guilty. Paul continues in Romans to explain the gravity of our situation and station. He says “because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith” (11:20). There is absolutely nothing but the “kindness and love of God our Savior toward man” (Titus 3:4) keeping us in the family of God. I would say that any petty quibbling regarding our position in church should take a major backseat to the fact that we have been invited to the table in the first place.
Just make sure you’re wearing a “wedding garment” (Matthew 22:11-12)
“For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that He hateth putting away:”