John 17, Jesus prayed that we would be one, as He and the Father are one. I’ve heard a lot of sermons on this passage and many of them have been great. A key focus of these many sermons has been the issue of denominational unity. Christ isn’t divided, as the Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians, therefore Christians do not possess any spiritual blessing to divide the Church over issues of minor theology or methodology.Since my days as a young believer, I have been greatly influenced by those who pursue unity across denominations. This influence has dealt me an exceptional hand of patience and joy in confronting division over the issues that separate us. While I still consider denominational unity a great concern, there are other matters of unity that for me have come into greater focus.
The Lord began touching my heart over the generational issues that divide us. I spent years especially observant of the tensions lying behind the guise of age versus wisdom in the Church. This sad discrimination of our fellow believer rears its head every time we minimize the younger believer’s potential or impact. It is evident every time we cut the older believer from the worship team in favor of a younger, more marketable member. We already meet for church in different rooms or buildings, and serve in different ministries. We need to find ways to honor both young and old that do not divide us further.
Divisions lie elsewhere. Our cultural climate has left us at odds with one another over political policy, as though we’re somehow supposed to walk more united with a non-believer than a believer because we’re either pro or anti gun, for instance.
Last, but certainly not least is the issue of nationalism and race. Can we walk in Christ-like unity if we exalt the color of our flags and the color of our skin above the call of our Savior? In past years, I prided myself in thinking that I was more beyond this issue than blind to it. Brothers and sisters, most of us are more blind than we realize.
If we have been freed by the Salvation of our God through Christ Jesus our Lord, then there is no division among us that is permissible. In His mercy, God promises that Jesus will return to a Church that has walked out the fulfillment of the promise that we are heirs, together, in the promise of Christ. That means we need to overcome these divisions if we ever want to see the fullness of God, but it also means that God is even more committed to this goal than any of us.
For many of us, it will be an inconvenient necessity to pursue unity as God sees it. I do believe though, that God is blessed and willing to give us the grace necessary to empower brotherly unity among us.
My next big writing project is going to be on this subject. I’m going to dive into this theologically and prophetically through the Scriptures. I believe that as we live in a generation that is poised to preach the Gospel in every nation during our generation, the unity of the Church will be pivotal to making disciples among the nations and hastening the day of Christ.
Please join me in prayer over this subject. If you don’t know how to pray on this matter, read aloud Jesus’ prayers in John 17 and say amen in faith. Consider where you too, have been blind to or helped perpetuate any of these divisions.
-J. S. Marek