The last couple weeks of #PRAY127 requests have been a response to what’s happening in our world right now as various societal and social inequities have been brought to the forefront. We have been praying that we would “do justice” and for the wisdom to execute that desire of our heavenly Father.
While it appears most authentic followers of Christ believe we must do something about the racial injustice we see in our country (and the world), it also appears we have varying opinions about how to tackle the problem. I believe we’re at a critical mass right now in the Church (forget the world for a second). Not only do we have a window of opportunity that the Lord has given us (Colossians 4:5), but the seemingly fragility inside the body of Christ – as exploited by Satan – threatens our ability to effectively leverage the aforementioned opportunity.
Clearly the Church (Big C) needs what Jesus prayed we would have in John 17 – Oneness.
In one sense, we already have it. By including non-Jews in His plan of salvation, those “who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ…so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace” (Ephesians 2:13, 15b). That is to say, all the walls of religious division in the world were torn down when Jesus died not just for Jewish folks, but all other people groups. We were made ONE.
In another sense, we’re still working on the whole oneness thing. Look at Jesus’ famous prayer to His Father in the early morning hours before He was crucified:
“And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one. I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:22-23).
Note that His prayer was that we “be made perfect in one;” this was completed on the cross, but it’s lived out in real time by messy humans who are still dealing daily with a very persuasive sin nature.
This is why Paul writes in Ephesians that we must “walk worthy of the calling” we’ve received (Ephesians 4:1).
It’s why God gave us teachers and apostles and prophets to equip us, “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…according to the effective working by which every part does its share, [and] causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:13, 16b).
Growth doesn’t just happen. Unity doesn’t just happen. Oneness doesn’t just happen. It happens when each member in the body of Christ “does its share” and edifies the other members.
What’s more, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You remember the famous analogy in 1 Corinthians 12 about the body of Christ being compared a literal body? It’s not the hand or the foot, it’s both. It’s not the eye or the ear, it’s both. As Christ-followers, we “are the body of Christ, and members individually” (1 Cor. 12:27).
You know what that means? Unity doesn’t mean unanimity. Diversity can exist inside unity.
There seems to be a growing trend of polarization even within the Church. Either/Or propositions work in terms of eternal salvation, but we must be careful not to argue over what Paul called “disputable” issues (Romans 14:1). Increasing our Both/And language when it comes to non-essential perspectives actually promotes the unity that Christ has promised us.
Paul provides a clear path to promoting Both/And language in Philippians 2:2-4:
“Now make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also the interests of others.”
Humility. Elevating others.
Laying down rights. Being quick to listen.
Desiring oneness over winning an argument.
These are practical steps each of us can take every day to promote unity within the body of Christ.
If we think of the body of Christ as an actual body, it’s easy to grasp. The hand is busy being a hand. It’s generally unconcerned with what the feet are doing. The hand is grabbing things, dexterously conducting affairs, typing and brushing and cutting and catching and a million other things without conscious knowledge of how the feet are faring. But how cognizant would the hand be if the feet were missing?
Body of Christ, we need each other. We each have a perspective that God has given us; we have gifts to deploy and jobs to perform to make sure we’re clicking in unity and on all- cylinders. We must pull our weight so that we can continue to grow.
Our lack of unity is stunting our growth. We must stay vigilant in the body to fight for unity.
The easy thing is to go back to being a hand or a foot or an ear or nose, unconcerned with the burdens of our fellow body parts. But God has called us to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) because in doing so we express the fullness of Christ.
Will you join us in praying for unity this week among the body of believers? If the family can’t unite itself, we’re going to have a hard time convincing those outside to join.
Jesus help us be all that you’ve called us to be.
Jeff Ford, CEO
P.S. Please pass this email on to those who might be interested in praying with us each Monday. They can sign up to receive these emails here: https://manupandgo.org/pray127.