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.