(Originally Posted July, 2018)
Unity Because We Need It
Unity Because We Don’t GOT it
In July 2018 I was spending a lot of time in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah. While it was specifically written to the Israelites, I believe that it gives us some interesting “jumping-off” points that we can apply to our lives.
Please hear me when I say that I’m not being critical toward either political party or various theologies, even though I have strong beliefs myself. I am being critical towards us, in the church, us that are saved, that are NOT IN UNITY with one another simply because we think differently than others.
In fact, the reason I wrote this book, and still haven’t finished The Pray-ers, Book 3, is because this DISUNITY is killing us! Look, people may baptize, or pray, or vote, or look different from you, and WE CHOOSE disunity rather than humbly getting off our soap-box.
And, NO! Just because you’re right doesn’t mean you open your mouth.
I Jesus said something about “Log-Jams” in our eye. (Matthew 7:3)
Remember, we are the problem, when it comes to lack of unity, not the world! The world is acting like the world. The problem is us, the saved, the church. We are acting like the world also. And that has got to change! Let me confess to you, I’m talking about me as well as you. When I use the word “you,” I’m using it in the Southern sense “y’all,” which includes me.
We have prayed 2 Chronicles 7:14 for years that God would fix Washington DC, or Nairobi, or Mexico City, or Tegucigalpa, depending upon where you live. But we have completely ignored the first clause in that verse, which is humbling ourselves before God. We can RIGHTLY point out the ills in everybody else’s life, but we refuse to talk to God about the sin in our life.
To my shame, I know that I sure do. And I don’t think I’m that much different than many of you.
I wrote this post nearly 2 years before Covid-19. . .I’m just curious. From your perspective, has Christian Unity improved with C19?
Friends, WE HAVE the opportunity, the GREAT opportunity, and, I believe, responsibility, to demonstrate UNITY IN THE MIDST OF DISAGREEMENT, which the world does not have the ability to do.
Look at the radicalization of attitudes in our world, such that, we see people in Great Britain tearing down bus advertisements (https://www.facebook.com/FranklinGraham/posts/2013195845403253) because they don’t want others to hear Rev. Franklin Graham talk about hope.
Again, this is the world, and we expect that from the world!
I’m concerned that in the Church we are just as obstinate.
If you know the Mission Statement for Common Thread Ministries, “Rebuilding the Foundations of Prayer” from Psalm 11:3, you may know that the reason this is our Mission Statement is because I believe that things are going to get much worse before Christ returns. You may have even heard me say that “if your prayer-life is not solid, when things get worse, you will cave.”
I heard this in one of my prayer calls, “If you only pray when you’re in trouble. . .you’re in trouble.”
I told you that I have been spending a lot of time in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah, and again, while this was written to the Israelites of old, I fear there are solid applications for us today.
God, speaking to Jeremiah says:
“. . . They will cry out to me, but I will not hear them.”
Jeremiah 11:11b (HCSB)
And then three verses later we read that God tells Jeremiah:
“As for you, do not pray for these people. . .”
Jeremiah 11:14a (HCSB)
Remember, that God is talking about His chosen people in the two passages above. Nevertheless, While I DO NOT THINK that God has said this to us yet, is He getting ready to?
Again, I wrote this nearly 2 years before C19. If this experience doesn’t change you, WHAT DOES GOD HAVE TO DO TO GET YOU ATTENTION?
YIKES: Have we SOOOO DROPPED THE BALL that we have been asked to carry, that what portends us is, and should be, scary?
Remember, my SOLE-REASON (you may want to say “soul-reason” and I’d agree), for writing this is to point us to unity in the Body of Christ!
Make The Main-Thing The Main-Thing
Beginning with those in The Church that disagree with you.
And what is the main-thing?
Jesus made it clear, and it HAS TO BEGIN with us. In John 17:21 (His high-priestly prayer) He said, “The way they will know that I came from the Father, has NOTHING to do with your ability to parse doctrine. The way they will know that I came from the Father, has NOTHING to do with love (which He brings up 2 verses later). The way they will know that I came from the Father, has NOTHING to do with your politics! The way they will know that I came from the Father, is if you have unity.”
And Baby We Do Not!
I could be way wrong on this, but here is my bottom line. Expect God to say to us what He did to Jeremiah, if we continue this constant salvo of pointing our fingers at others, including, and especially, fellow Christians.
We have no more for time for petty differences! There’s a reason people do not want our Jesus and it is because they know us! They see our lack of unity!
And if our lack of unity is a sin, then we have so many sins that we can’t see over them (Psalm 40:12).
Let me briefly say something that may sound to you like I am speaking out of the other side of my mouth. If you are in politics, remember that you are to work as unto the Lord, and not unto man. And whatever you do, do it with excellence because it is the Lord you are serving (Colossians 3:23-24).
YIKES: Because of our arrogant choice to NOT BE IN UNITY, if He hasn’t already, I fear that God is getting ready to tell us what he told Isaiah, “I will not listen to you anymore. I don’t care, even when you raise your hands towards me or how often you pray” (Isaiah 1:15). Or maybe God is getting ready to say to us, when we pray, like He said to Moses, “Stop talking to me about this subject!” (Deuteronomy 3:26b).
If we refuse to be united with our Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I don’t think God is interested in listening to ANYTHING we have to say!
What Church Unity Looks Like
Church unity is best understood by looking at a foundational point of the Christian’s existence here on Terra Firma, namely, that this is not our home! Just look at Hebrews 13:14 and 1 Peter 2:11.
The truth of these two verses, and their impact on #ChurchUnity came home to me recently when I thought through Colossians 1:5 where we are told our “hope is in Heaven.”
When our hope is NOT IN HEAVEN. Where is it?
That’s Right: When our hope is not in heaven, our hope is on things here, on earth. How foolish and how selfish we are!
I believe that when our focus is on the things of the earth, our selfishness does not allow us to submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21).
Does this short discussion of #ChurchUnity remind you of the passage that says, “deny yourself?” (Matthew 16:24) Well it should.
Unity In The Body
This is what the Lord requires of us.
Turn Him down to your peril, and to OUR peril, as a Body.
Our degree of unity in Christ’s Church, between the different denominations, is solely dependent upon the degree of unity we share in our interpretations of Scripture, God’s Word. To deny this fact when attempting unity, will only accomplish a pretension of full unity, in outward appearance only. And a pretension of outward unity is not what Christ has in mind in John 17. Christ has in mind the unity that can only be found, through unity in God’s Word.
You are absolutely right, which is why my concern is NOT complete doctrinal unity, although I would love to see that. My concern, my burden is for a familial unity, despite another’s doctrine (of non-essentials, of course).
Some might even consider my discussion of unity, “shallow.” To which I would also agree. I’m concerned that we (that are clearly within The Body) are demonstrating to the world that we are as disunited as them, as the world is.
Until we can demonstrate “unity while we disagree about non-essentials,” people do not want or need our Jesus.
I should be able to sincerely be-friend my brother, regardless of how he baptizes.
I should be able to sincerely be-friend my brother, regardless of how he prays.
I should be able to sincerely be-friend my brother, regardless of how he votes.
If God’s tent is big enough for them, I need to do something different, familialy (sorry for the bad English).