“That They May Be One…”
By Benjamin Raven Pressley
The very word ‘COMMUNITY’ broken down into parts ‘COMM’ and ‘UNITY’ seems to even beckon us to come into unity. Why is this so difficult for the Body of Christ? If one answers this question honestly it has to be admitted that it is due to selfishness and pride.
The church did not start out this way. In fact it was not even born until they had come together in one mind and one accord and in one place (Acts 2:1-3)….
On that day of Pentecost the church was born and empowered. The Holy Spirit came upon all that were in that upper room. They became ONE! 120 people who knew Jesus while on the Earth in bodily form, 120 people who had witnessed His death and resurrection. Yet these witnesses were told to wait until they were endued with power from on high (Luke 24:49). And when did it happen? When they were of one accord in one place. Great things took place following that day: 3000 came to Christ in one day, the lame walked, the dumb talked, the blind were given sight, devils had to flee. The church was born!
Has this changed? Did we get permission from the head of the church, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:23), that we could all split up into various factions and do things whatever way we thought it should be? I read that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and heaven and Earth will pass away but His Word will not pass away (Matthew 24:35). So it kind of follows reason that the church is to be in unity. 1 Corinthians 12:15-17 reminds us: “If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?” We cannot just divide as we see fit. In this same chapter in verse 22 it reminds us that even the most feeble among us has a place in the body. Please take time to read the whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 12.
People love to quote the so-called Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). That was the Lord teaching His disciples to pray. The Lord’s prayer for the church can be found in John 17 and look what He prayed: “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, THAT THEY MAY BE ONE, as we are. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; THAT THEY MAY BE ONE, EVEN AS WE ARE ONE: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” Verse 21 should move you as a believer. It says this is how the world will know we are of Christ when we are one. When the world sees a powerless divided church why would they want to be part of that? We are supposed to be known for our unity and our love for one another (1 John 3:10-11).
Paul went on to confirm this in his writings in Ephesians 4:4-6: “ There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
So where does it begin? Are we too far gone? I think it is possible. I think we have a mandate to make it so. Believers are not going to agree on everything. The early church certainly had its share of division and differences. What we can do though is start with what we do agree on. Does this mean we should toss out every doctrine we don’t agree on for the sake of unity? Absolutely not! I’m just saying let’s come together on what we can come together on and do the work of the kingdom. A world is out there dying and going to hell while the church argues about whether Adam had a belly button or not! (I’m not kidding. A church split over this.). What did James say was pure religion and undefiled? “To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:26-27). Now there is something we can agree on. Helping the helpless among us. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison. Jesus said if we don’t do these things we will be cast into everlasting darkness because as we do unto the least of these we do it unto Him. (Mathew 25:31-46. James 2:15-17). We can agree that there is salvation only in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). And how about we stop shooting the wounded among us? When one of us falls or makes a mistake we are supposed to be there for him to restore him until he can walk again on his own. (Galatians 6:1). You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family. Maybe that person before you doesn’t smell like you think they should or dress like you think they should but Jesus died for them as sure as He died for you and you best not call that unclean which God has called clean (Acts 10:15).
It is a starting point but if we would just come together on these small points it would go far and mean so much to those in need of the gospel around us. Come my brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us come together in unity. Unity and community doesn’t just happen. It must be intentional. It is up to us all. We can do this!