He did not say this on his own; as high priest at that time he was led to prophesy that Jesus would die for the entire nation. And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world. (John 11:51-52)
Read: Ezekiel 17:1 – 19:14
Relate: Every now and then I find myself in a conversation with someone who is hostile to Christianity. If it happens online they tend to be a bit more abrasive but when it happens face to face these conversations are usually quite civil and even stimulating. I have learned a lot and truly appreciate the opportunity to have conversations with people who force me to really know what I believe and dig deeper than the surface of Christianity.
In these conversations, there are a couple things that seem to pop up frequently. The first is that age old question: “If God is all powerful, and He is good, why does evil/pain/suffering exist?” The question pops up in various ways but it is almost always one of the first things they throw at me. Another question that often pops up is, “Why are there so many different Bibles/churches? How can I know which one is right?” The first half of this is easy to answer but not so easy to understand. I can get into textual criticism, and the language and cultural problems of translating something from one ancient language to a different modern one. I love this stuff but usually I start to lose them and the conversation moves in a different direction.
The second half isn’t as easy to explain. Why do we have so many different churches? I could talk about how different people have different preferences and one type of church appeals to you while another to me and the goal is to reach as many people as possible. Then why don’t we just have many churches within one denomination? Why do so many different churches that believe so many different things? Why does the church have to be so divisive?
React: My answer to that is that it shouldn’t be. I can talk about how I used to work in college ministry with an organization called interfellowship. We were a networking of ten to a dozen Christian groups who gathered together in unity and cooperation in spite of different cultures, languages, and even theological beliefs. I can talk about different times and places things like this have been seen, but these are like pockets of wisdom surrounded by a world full of sin.
The truth is, their argument is valid. The world is supposed to be able to identify us as Christians by our love for each other. So where’s the love? Where are the Christians? One of the missions of Jesus, one of the reasons He came was “To bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world.” Are we about His calling? Are we His church?
God, I pray for Your church. I pray for those from Mexico to Madagascar to Mongolia. I pray for those from China to Chile to the Czech Republic. From one corner of Your globe to the other I pray for a move of God and the advancement of Your Kingdom. I pray that in each corner of our world there would be a city on the hill shining the bright light of Your love that all may see. God, I also pray for the churches around the corner. I pray for those who might worship a little differently, and even believe a little differently than I do. I pray that You would help us tear down the walls that divide us, help us find creative ways to gather together in love and unity while not compromising our distinctives. Help the world to see that in truth we are one church though we meet in different buildings. Help us to radiate Your love to our world but also, especially, to each other.
10 thoughts on “Jesus Unites”
Amen to this, BJ. Just a solid, Amen!
It´s a challenge isn´t it? We all (as Protestants) enjoy the sense of individual freedom, priesthood of all believers, the right to disagree etc that is our legacy since the Reformation – but do we give up on a church too soon when we don´t agree with everything that´s said or done? That´s how new ones start. The Catholics have been much better at maintaining the sense of unity (outward at least). I know many people had to pay the price for this over the centuries and I´m not condoning that. But do we Protestants now think too individualistically? Have we gone too far and don´t think enough about the good of the whole church?
Love Rend Collective by the way. They´re from my neck of the woods. Glad you´ve discovered them too.
Boy, this very topic has been on my heart lately and I’m seeing it on others’ as well. Our body is in desperate need of unity. We get so focused on our differences in beliefs and style that division creeps in and our witness is destroyed. A renewed commitment to civil discourse and actively loving one another is my hope for us. Nice post, BJ. Hope you have a blessed weekend!
Christian or not, unity is something the world needs to strive for. Will it ever happen?
Amen! I have used the analogy with the church I pastor… “There are many roads that lead to “Walmart” all that matters is that we get to Walmart.
Thank you for reading and responding but there’s a couple reasons I wouldn’t want to use that analogy.
1) I’m really not a big fan of Walmart
2) The many roads concept can easily be misunderstand and misused
Thank you for the new thoughts for myself. I have always made sure that the end place would be God and none other as I explained the analogy, but maybe I need to rethink how I should word it.
Too many times, we Christians try to give answers for things for which there are no answers. At least I hope we have. Easy answers turn off many people. We live in a real world, with real,unexplainable horrors going on all the time. In the end we choose to believe or not, despite the questions. For me, when I get involved in those discussions, I let the inquirer know that if they’re really wanting to discuss it, we can, but if they’re just being antagonistic for antagonisitic’s sake, the discussion is over. I believe Jesus did the same thing. Often. We won’t convince anyone till they’re ready to listen. As the ancient proverbs says, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I just love that. God bless.
Rebecca I feel the exact same way
I enjoyed the post and yet when we Christians reflect on Jesus words “not everyone saying: ‘Lord Lord…'” it does remind us that unity is only achieved in following Christ – Peter makes clear it is in his ‘footsteps’.
The unity of many churches begins with their worship and joint activities not on the fundamentals of faith and support for the Kingdom of God.
We are all God’s children the key point is do we really understand what that means? Do we reflect the qualities and live to the standards set out in his word the Holy Bible?
My prayer is that the many (Christian’s included) find the ‘right way to worship’: (1 Peter 5:6-10 RNWT 2013) 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time, 7 while you throw all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 8 Keep your senses, be watchful! Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone. 9 But take your stand against him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by the entire association of your brothers in the world. 10 But after you have suffered a little while, the God of all undeserved kindness, who called you to his everlasting glory in union with Christ, will himself finish your training. He will make you firm, he will make you strong, he will firmly ground you.