>> June 27, 2011
Close your eyes and imagine with me for a minute. Are they closed? Well, I guess if they were closed you couldn’t read… so read, then close your eyes.
Go back in time to the 70’s. See the man in a floral printed shirt, with longish hair, and a guitar leading his youth group in songs around a campfire on a summer evening?
I can almost smell the campfire smoke as we sing Kum-ba-yah, my Lord…Kum-ba-yah. Or perhaps you remember this one:
It only takes a spark to get a fire going.
And soon all those around,
Can warm up to its glowing.
That’s how it is with God’s love,
Once you’ve experienced it.
You spread His love, to everyone,
You want to pass it on.
But this is the campfire song memory that “sparked” this Christianese post:
We are one in The Spirit,
We are one in The Lord.
We are one in the Spirit,
We are on in the Lord.And we pray that all unity may one day be restored.
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our Love,Yes, they'll know we are Christians by our love.
Do you see the one little word that seems to never quite find its rightful place in the church? I’ll give you a hint. This post is the letter U.
Unity, it is seriously lacking among the churches. I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase in regards to church people: “If that’s what Christians are like, I want nothing to do with church.”
I’ve been around the block a few times and I’ve seen my share of congregations that are full of conflict, discord, dissension, friction, faction…I’m always baffled at how easy the word “love” is thrown out and then quickly retracted within the walls of the church building by selfish actions of hate. (Which would be the opposite of love, yes?)
On the night Jesus sat with his disciples for the Passover meal, he tucked into the conversation bits and pieces of final instructions.
In John 13, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples and teaches them about serving. He shares a meal in the intimate company of his chosen twelve (while John laid his head on Jesus’ chest. That’s intimate friendship.) and points out that one of them will betray him (gasp). He begins to prepare them for what was about to come to pass and says:
“…A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
Then Jesus points out to Peter, who swears he would “lay down his life” for Jesus, and clues him in about his upcoming denial.
In short Jesus was saying: Love one another, be my disciples, yet I know one of you will betray me and another will deny me.
Destined for failure? No. Jesus is fully aware of the nature of human hearts. He knew that love and unity is a daily choice, just as it is a daily choice to be a Christ follower.
Waaaaay back in the Garden of Eden God gave Adam and Eve the freedom of choice and the nekked little lovebirds set an historical moment and showed the flaw of every human that would follow them by choosing wrong. And God, in His loving forgiveness, has constantly given his created-likeness the opportunity to choose right.
Unity among believers is a choice. When a church body chooses to not protect the unity by not loving one another…the world has no interest in their message of “God so loved...” and eternity is at stake for the lives we fail to represent a true view of love and unity.
“…with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3