August 15, 2013

Christian Unity

The peace of God depends not on circumstances, but on faith. When a person believes that God is in charge of all things, and trusts His choices, then the heart is a rest, no matter the externals.

This is also true of unity. Jesus prayed for it…

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:20–21)

… Yet Jesus was not asking for an outward unity where His children agree on everything or understand Him in the same way. That may happen in heaven, but here on earth the unity He prayed for depends on the one thing we have in common --- His indwelling presence. Because Jesus lives in His people, we are united, regardless of our external differences.

I’ve attended many different churches and found this to be so. If God’s people can get past their points of difference, we feel as if we have known each other forever. That comes from the Holy Spirit who unites us in spirit and gives us a communion with one another that doesn’t happen with everyone else.

Sometimes I ‘click’ with certain people. Most know that experience, yet the unity Christians have in Christ goes beyond that. We don’t have to think alike or have mutual hobbies or interests. We have Jesus living in us and that is enough, almost.

This prayer is more fully answered the more we know, believe and live by the gospel and do it with kindness toward those who differ from our definition of it. Some Christians still look for that outward union rather than the inward coupled with kindness. For them, it seems agreement on all issues is the answer to Jesus’ prayer. No doubt this is why there are so many denominations.

In heaven, there will be none of that; our unity will be complete. While we will not have heaven on earth, it seems to me a good idea to focus on what we do have in common while we are here, rather than all that divides. Our challenge is maintaining devotion to God’s truth and at the same time being kind, even affectionate and cooperative with others who love Jesus but wear a different hat.

When we can do that, we help others believe that God the Father sent God the Son to be our Redeemer, our peace, and our unity.

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