Saturday, November 22, 2014

Why is it so important for the church to find unity?

The Scripture says that Moses was the most humble man in all the earth. Paul reminds us that he is the chief of sinners. There are some commentators who would discount these sayings, but I believe them to be true, at least in the sense of how Moses and Paul looked at themselves. Moses was humble, and Paul viewed himself of little account in comparison with that which he should be. I think that such an outlook of ourselves is critical to finding one’s place before God. There is a very real sense in which we are nothing, of no account, a bunch of zeroes before God.

In a quaint saying of unknown origin, some wise person pointed out that we are a zero, and a zero remains such until it gets behind the right one. The Right One being God, and at that point, a Christian begins to find value in his life that he knew not before. Extending the metaphor a bit, and it is only a metaphor, I notice that a zero behind a one is a ten; when we get behind God, the value of our life increases, perhaps even ten-fold. Thus thinking of this as a metaphor seems to help us understand that we gain meaning from our relationship with God; conversely we lose meaning as we walk away from our God.

But to extend it even a bit further, what happens when two zeros, or two Christians get behind the right one? Our power and fruits are multiplied, perhaps a hundredfold. When three get together? A thousand-fold result in fruits? Is that not what Jesus himself promised? “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20). The metaphor now seems to show us at least part of what God promises.

In John 13:34 and 35, it says: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Our very testimony to a lost world, a world that God loves so very much, is dependent, not on maintaining a relationship to God, though that may be assumed, but rather on our relationships to each other. How we treat each other, how we act together before the world is a vital presentation of the very person of Jesus. The world will come to know Jesus through us, through our love for each other.

The love that one Christian feels toward another Christian can scarcely be described, yet I shall try. Perhaps it would be best to go back to the seventies. Yes, I was saved in what some are beginning to term the Fourth Great Awakening. Called out of total darkness into his marvelous light, I had much to learn, but one thing I did learn early—this calling had taken place in others, and we were all to be one family. I remember best the unfamiliar feeling of instant comradeship when meeting a new person who was a Christian. I remember, unparalleled in my experience up to that time, the wave of emotion that would almost overwhelm me as I realized that this person was a brother or a sister in the Lord, someone that I would be spending eternity with. Isn’t that the kind of everyday love that we should feel toward one another?

I believe that is one of the pillars of revival—that we must love one another and thus show the world that indeed we are changed by the power of God. In all the awakenings I have studied, people have minimized their differences of outlook on doctrine, and emphasized their unity of Christ. If the message of Christ is to again spread rapidly in America, it will be, in part, because Christians see the need to unite in Christ.
The lost world ought to be our primary aim, and the love that we show toward one another should be both deep and true. Our very testimony—that the world should know that we are his disciples depends upon it. I read a disturbing piece in a current Christian magazine today—the author’s thesis was that we ought, as Christians, be equally upset whether injustice is being worked on another group or whether it is being worked upon Christians. The basis of his article was correct—we surely should be upset whenever we see injustice, but the differences are profound. I believe part of the reason that we see such a horrific reaction to Christians being persecuted in far-off places is precisely because the average Christian realizes that these unfortunate folk are part of our family. If you son or daughter were involved in a crisis, or your mother or father, would it not become an immediate and deep problem for you? Praise God that most of us recognize immediately that family relationship, and it is a good thing, I think, that we tend to take it very personally when we read of our Christian brothers and sisters being persecuted. The author of the piece just went one step too far—personal is personal though it be remote because we recognize that we are a part of the same body. When part of that body is hurt, it is normal for the rest of the body to give it “undue attention” until things are made better.

Interestingly, Jesus did not say, as it might be thought he would, that we are known to be his disciples by our unselfish acts to the poor or the desperate or the needy. Many are the admonitions for us to be doing for them as our duty would require, but isn’t it interesting that Jesus says the world will know we are his disciples by our love toward one another? May the Lord knit our hearts and lives strongly together that the world may see and know that there is a Christ.

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