December 10, 2008

What is Christian unity?

Two people are climbing a mountain, but on different slopes. One is halfway to the top, the other closer. Both of them enjoy the view, but both see different things. One of them is a geologist and knows the foundation of that mountain. The other is a botanist and is more interested in the details of the trees and plants growing in the rocky soil. But it is the same mountain.

When Jesus prayed for His disciples in John 17, He asked that we might be unified. When I look at all the denominations with different views of God and the way He works, and even the different views in our denomination, it seems that this prayer was not answered.

However, my heart responds. How can the Father not answer the prayers of the Son? This is part of what He said:
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:20-23).
In this prayer, Jesus does not ask the Father that we all agree on everything. He just asks that we believe in Him and find our unity in that relationship. We are all climbing the same mountain.

This past week I encountered someone who does not realize that the foundation of this mountain is the Word of God. That person is more interested in the experiences of the climb, the sound of the wind and the warmth of the sun, something I sometimes miss because I’m so intent what I see from my side of this Rock.

Yet both of us love Jesus. We know we do not agree, but we can be united anyway. That is the wonder of Jesus. He will bring two climbers together at the top and then we will see the same things, know the same things. In the meantime, we each focus on the slope ahead of us and are united in the glorious Name of Christ, the solid Rock under our feet!

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