November 12, 2016
Christ, the Messiah, the Liberator, said an astounding thing in John 17:23.
I am in them and You are in Me.
May they be made completely one,
so the world may know You have sent Me
and have loved them as You have loved Me.
“They” refers to us who would come later and who claim to be disciples of the Messiah. It looks like we have a ways to go, doesn’t it?
With thousands of denominations and groups identifying themselves as Christian, we present confusing disunity to the world. Shoot, even some “non-denominational” movements are sometimes stealth denominations.
According to Jesus, our being “completely one” is the key to the world knowing that Jesus was sent by God. But we Christians seem to be our own worst enemy.
Look around you.
Does the world evidence knowledge that Jesus was sent by God?
(Now; before we get too far, remember that “being completely one” does not mean being clones. We can be completely one while being colorfully unique.)
It looks impossible to rectify this. Too many of us stubbornly hold to our “distinctives“. Do you wonder what drove the desire to have “distinctives” in the first place? It is reasonable to conclude that pride is in the mix, which isn’t widely believed to be a Christian virtue.
This is not to say that no Christians who have separated themselves from other Christians were sincere in their desire to hold to the Word of God as truth. It is not to say that all Christians who have done this do not have a love for Jesus.
Didn’t Jesus say, though, that if we loved Him we would obey His commands? Didn’t He command us to love one another? Would not true love compel us to work out our differences and misaligned understandings of Scripture and hold to the unity for which Jesus prayed? Would not true love compel us to exhort and encourage one another?
It seems easier to say “be gone”.
Does not the claim to have distinctives communicate an underlying message that “we are better than they” or even “we are better than most”? I think also we tend to believe that we have a fuller or more correct understanding of the Word of God than “those other people”.
No, actually we need each other to sharpen our understanding of and response to the Word. That can’t happen when we avoid one another. This is true for individuals, and for groups of individuals (churches).
In a community in which there is “neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free” it seems odd to staunchly proclaim how different we are from our brothers and sisters. Would this tend toward “being one” or toward offending one another?
We are of one blood, both physically and spiritually. When will we recognize this?