Friday, October 26, 2018
We Are One in the Spirit, We Are One in the Lord
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one - I in them and you in me - so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Laity Sunday was last week, and our lay leader, Jerry N., delivered a most inspirational message based on the Scripture above. This post reflects my takeaways from the powerful words he shared with us. Thank you, Jerry, for serving us so well, and especially for your unflagging service to the Lord!
No doubt about it, our country is going through one of the most divisive times in its history. Heated rhetoric and incivility toward others of differing opinions has reached an unprecedented high, due largely, I believe, to the rapid rise of social media. Anonymity allows for insults to be hurled and ideas to be unjustly shredded just because a person does not hold our particular beliefs.
What alarms me most, as the mid-terms are fast approaching, is the ratcheting up of volatility. More and more masks are coming off. The relative safety of the internet has been tossed aside as mob behavior is unabashedly encouraged by some, and conveniently ignored by others. Dialogue is reduced to seeing who can out shout the other.
It's an us versus them mentality.
We've lost our middle ground, if there ever was any to begin with. I'm beginning to wonder . . .
But as tragic as the division and discord is in society at large, it is especially heartbreaking when the church falls prey to secular vagaries, forgetting in the heat of the moment that their fellow worshipers are children of God. We are overcome by the desire to be right instead of righteous. Instead of actively listening to the opinions of others, we shut them up and shut them down over disagreements that are, in the eternal perspective, truly insignificant.
Let me share an incident that took place recently at our church. For years, there was discussion about moving the contemporary service from the sanctuary to the CAC - Community Activities Center, which is basically a gym with a stage. Was there an outcry of horror by some? Of course! Were there others who had a vision of what it could look like, who favored the move? Of course, again! Serious dialogue on this issue was initiated by the clergy and staff, and all opinions were respectfully listened to and considered. When the decision was finally made to move the service, some folks were so outraged, they actually left the church.
You heard me right.
They left the church because they didn't get their way. That is sadder than sad in my book.
As the Body of Christ, we are bound to have different outlooks and ideas for how things should be, but we also have a higher calling that is not of this world. Jesus prays for our unity in worshiping God, that the Father may be one with us as He and the Father are one. If we are to embrace Christianity fully, shouldn't we make this unity our greatest priority? After all, God loves us all equally, no matter our race, social status or political affiliation.
Satan is reveling in the chaos which is now wreaking havoc on our country. Let us not invite him into our houses of worship by refusing to love one another as Christ commanded. May we, instead, be a beckoning light to this hurting, discordant world, demonstrating the powerful, restorative love of God to transform lives and heal divisions that threaten to keep us in denial of the love of the One who can, and will, always unite.
Let us strive, then, to be one in the Spirit and one in the Lord. Ever praying that all unity will one day be restored.
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.
They will know we are Christians by our love . . .
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