What I Read Today;
Galatians 5; John 17; Jonah 2-4; Ecclesiastes 4; Nehemiah 9; Deuteronomy 15
Unity is a word that gets tossed around quite a bit. Political parties seek unity within their party members. Cities seek unity in fighting crime and drugs. Employee unions seek unity within the rank and file.
In John 17 vs. 20-24, Jesus speaks about unity within the church.
This is a loaded concept. To put it bluntly, there is virtually no unity in today’s church. Some denominations seem to be looking for new and improved ways to promote disunity throughout the world. Instead of following Jesus’ command to be unified, we look for every possible way to break fellowship.
Jesus gives us three reasons, in this section of scripture, to seek unity.
- Verse 21, “So that the world may believe that you sent me.” NRSV
- Jesus wants the church to be unified in one single mission. The mission to lead people to salvation through Jesus Christ. When we are united, the world sees Jesus in all his glory. Ministries that understand that the reason the church exists is to proclaim the Gospel, not fight about doctrine, are the churches that are proclaiming the love of Jesus.
- Verse 23, “So that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” NRSV
- Our unity should show the love of God so that even those who don’t believe, can see that Jesus Christ makes a difference in our lives. When there is infighting within the church, how can God’s love be seen in a positive light? How do we look different from the politicians who fight each other?
- Verse24, “Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” NRSV
- Finally, we are to be unified so that people will be drawn to Jesus Christ. When non-believers see some of our ridiculous arguments within the church, we do not lead them to Christ. Instead, we push them away from Christ.
A church body’s doctrine is essential to determine what its core beliefs are. However, it is necessary to note that the early church did not have a single doctrine. The church in Jerusalem had a substantial Jewish influence. They still practiced many of the Jewish customs. The church outside of Israel was moving away from the traditions of Judaism. In Acts 15, the Apostles agreed that since the holy spirit was moving people to believe in Jesus Christ that they would not enforce Jewish Old Testament Customs onto the new believers.
We can disagree on forms of worship. We can peacefully disagree on when to baptize and what happens during communion. We can disagree on other points of doctrine.
But we have to be unified in the belief that God sent his son to save the world. We have to be united in the idea that the Holy Spirit is helping all of us become closer to Christ.