John 17:20-21 – 20 “I do not rask for these only, but also for those swho will believe in me through their word, 21 tthat they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that uthey also may be in vus, so that the world wmay believe that you have sent me. – English standard version (emphasis mine).
Is the church united today? The answer is probably a mix of yes and no. Which church? Your local church? The Church in your community? In your country? This last Sunday, our pastor spoke on the mandate and call to unity, and he stressed the verse above. Perhaps the most engaging point that was made was this:
“Unity helps the world believe… disunity helps the world NOT believe.” (to hear the sermon online, click HERE)
Wow. That message alone should nail us right to the heart. Our inability to unite contributes to the world’s unbelief.
Our church has experienced a lot of disunity in the past for a lot of reasons. However, interestingly enough, our pastor is preaching this series at a time when, if anything, ACC is beginning to move forward with more purpose, unity, and direction than before. So why preach this sermon now?
When I think of disunity in the church, I think of people squabbling, bickering, and dividing over such issues as musical style and doctrinal disagreements. One might also think of the church in Corinth as Paul addresses them in 1 Corinthians. If someone were to visit our church today, they probably would not see any overt signs of this kind of disunity (at least I hope not).
But just because a church is not overtly disunited doesn’t necessarily mean that that church is functioning in the kind of unity Jesus is praying about, either. There is much more to unity than the mere absence of disunity. Our pastor’s message on Sunday was not an attempt to silence any blatant disunity; it was instead an appeal to the congregation for unity.
A church operating in unity is a church that functions as a team. In a sports team, success depends on each player knowing the goals of the team, knowing his / her position on the team and how to play it, knowing the plays or strategies of the team, and contributing 100%, forsaking his / her own agenda or pride for the sake of the team.
It is the same with the church. The ability to succeed or fail in reaching the world depends on each member knowing the goals and strategy of the church, as well as how they play a part in the “game plan.”
At ACC, we have been hard at work developing our strategy, solidifying our goals, and moving towards one vision in unity. We hope to be able to clearly implement this by Fall, so that everyone who wants to be a part of this team is able to effectively be involved.
When you think of that quote, “unity helps the world believe… disunity helps the world NOT believe,” can you think of specific instances where this has proven itself to be true? How do you think the Church in general is doing in its call to unity? Finally, what kinds of changes should we dare to pray for in order to see real unity become a reality?
– posted by Mike Rauwolf