Much has been written and done about a greater level of unity in the body of Christ in the last several years. This is wonderful. But, as good as it is to see this, I have a concern. My concern is that we have tasted the hors d’oeuvres of unity and thought it was the main course. We have stopped lobbing hand grenades at one another’s pulpits and thought it was real, Biblical unity. It is true that we have had some times of corporate prayer and praise, and we have even cooperated on some projects. But my concern is that our present level of unity is not yet what Jesus had in mind when he prayed for His Church. I believe there is more He wants for us from us in the area of the unity of His Body.
Two words from two verses of Scripture have been the bases of many of my prayers and perspectives to deepen the true, biblical unity within His Church.
The first word is glory. In Psalm 26:8 David says “I love the place where You live, Oh Lord, the place where Your glory dwells.” David recognized the house of the Lord because of it was a place of glory. All those who lived through the 60’s have a bit of an advantage to understanding this word. When something was worth not only noticing, but looking intently at, one hippy would say to another, “Heavy, man!” That word “heavy” is actually a pretty good understanding of the biblical word “glory”. It is something that makes an impression upon me the more I think about it.
I have often prayed, “Lord, please let me love all the places where I see Your glory. Train my eyes to see Your glory in places I may never expect it. And then, wherever I see it, please give me a great love for that place.”
If the presence of God is manifest through a congregation or a ministry or a person or a group, in such a manner that I am more impressed with who God is, and what He has done, than that is a place where His glory dwells. They may look different than what I think they should look. They make sound different than what I am used to. They may act in a manner that I would not act. But if they know, love and reflect some of the glorious nature of our God, then I want to love and bless that place.
The second word is grace. In Galatians 2:9, at a time when the possibility of serious division in the Body of Christ was very real, two groups looked deeply enough at each another until they saw the grace of God. There are huge questions behind this verse about how the early Church was going to proceed. They make our questions today, about style and personality, seem a little less important. There was a racial/ethical question. “How do the Gentiles relate to the Gospel?” There was a theological question. “What is the essence of the Gospel? Is the message of the Gospel about Jesus period, or about Jesus plus?” And there was a leadership question. “Who is going to be in charge and how will decisions be made?”
This could have been one of those powder-keg moments. But, the established group was able to accept the “next generation” because they recognized God’s grace upon them. Grace is not simply something we say before we eat. According to Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:10, it is a power from God which made him something and made him able to do something.
When I see God’s enabling power make a difference in a person’s life, I want to extend my hand and walk with those who have both given and received that grace. Their age or appearance is not an issue. When I see followers of Jesus demonstrating God-like acceptance, God-like creativity and God-like wisdom, I want to cheer them on to use more of what they have already received. Theological background or race is not an issue.
Glory and grace; two words which can help us toward a deeper unity in the Body of Christ. I invite you to join me in looking for and seeing more of it in His Church around you.