“…those who believed were of one heart and soul…” (from Acts 4:32)
For the last week, or so, we have been looking into the question of “Where’s the power in today’s Church?” We believe in a God of infinite power. We believe that He dwells within His people. We believe He still desires to act (and impact) today’s world. But so much of the time, our churches bear little resemblance to this Mighty God we claim to believe.
There are many reasons behind this observation (as we have already mentioned), but today I want to focus in on what I believe is the main problem. And it’s one issue we seldom ever address – though in many ways it is the most glaring.
The one thing you notice most about the early church was the fact that they were unified. They were many people… all working together as one. They constantly spent time together, they continually invested in one another, and they possessed an overwhelming sense that they held everything in common. They shared everything. They considered every person as family. They were absolutely one in their commitment to Christ – and in their commitment to each other. Daily, they fulfilled the Two Great Laws (“Love God, Love people!”) and it built an unshakeable bond between them all.
Contrast the Church then, with the Church now. Almost universally, you go into any city or town and you will find dozens of different types of churches. That is not so much a problem (and may even be beneficial [which I may address at a later time!]). But it is the reason behind why there are so many churches that is so telling. We have so many churches because we cannot get along. Whether it be differences in doctrine. Or worship style. Or in how the sacraments are done (or even which ones to do [or what they mean]!) We are divided because we cannot get beyond our differences. Sadly, our differences define us more than our common commitment to our Savior.
Jesus mentioned something momentous in His “High-priestly prayer” recorded in John 17. For His Church, He prayed: “(Father) I pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are one – as You are in me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be in Us so that the world will believe You sent me… May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent Me and that You love them as much as You love Me.” (from John 17:21-23)
What Jesus was clearly saying (and WHY it was so central in His prayer for us) is that one of the primary things needed, for the world to believe in Him, was our unity as God’s people.
Not our morals. Not our passion. Not our sacrifices. Not our worship. Not our programs. Not our doctrine. Not our rituals. Not even our commitment to truth.
Most importantly, God wanted His people to live in unity. Without it, according to Jesus, the gospel is hindered. Without it, people will almost always question the validity of our faith – and of the God Who is the Object of our faith. And without unity, we will not be able to experience the fullness of God’s power.
Christian unity is THAT important… and tomorrow we will look into reasons why…
Prayer Focus: God, help me to take stock of how I feel about other believers in other churches, and to commit my heart to pray for these other brothers and sisters in the faith.