Back on the first of this month, I said I’d be praying for the Body of Christ in one area: unity. Today ends my last day of praying for this daily. I’m sure it will continue to be a concern I raise periodically, but I’m moving on and letting this lie fallow for a bit.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve written numerous times on the issue of disunity within the Body of Christ. Sadly, I think we are becoming more disconnected rather than less. And before anyone claims that I’m just another of those mamby-pamby ecumenists, I just want to say that I’m a firm believer in solid doctrine and disciplining those who pursue “another gospel.”
That said, much of the Christian discourse I’ve seen lately on the Web isn’t Christian and it isn’t discourse. It’s more of an attempt by some of us to be right all the time, even if we have to savage others to do it. What I don’t see much of is an attempt to restore the wayward. Branding someone with a noxious tag is easy; restoring them to a place of wholeness and firmness in Christ is vastly harder.
It’s the nature of the Internet to be impersonal. I can think of no better place for someone to be an anonymous voice crying in the wilderness. But faceless prophesying isn’t the model that the Bible upholds for us; people faced their accusers and were restored to them in person. That’s a gutsier model than the one we uphold out in the frigid fringes of the Internet, a place where—as the old New Yorker cartoon goes—no one knows you’re a dog.
I started this month with a thirty-year old song (based on Psalm 133) by Rick Ridings that I used to sing as a much younger man. Here are the words again:
Father, make us one,
Father, make us one,
That the world may know
Thou hast sent the Son,
Father, make us one.
Behold how pleasant and how good it is
For brethren to dwell in unity,
For there the Lord commands the blessing,
Life forevermore. The world is dying to have what we Christians so easily take for granted, yet how poorly we model the unity that makes it possible for the world to believe. Instead of the open hand of God, we’ve become hidden snipers. I’m not saying we should abandon good doctrine, but neither should we so patently ignore the log in our own eye. All too often, the speck in our brother’s eye is made out to be an oak, while our own sequoia goes left unattended.
I think we can still point out error and retain unity. But the condition for this is to correct with a greater acknowledgment of our own failings and with a greater heart toward restoring the wayward. If we bludgeon them to death first, our path to restoring them is made that much more difficult.
Father, make us one.
5 thoughts on “31 Days of Prayer for One Thing”
Unity is so important…thanks for bringing that up. Jesus prayed in John 17 “that they may be one…so that the world might know that You sent Me…” It is a huge part of the distinction of the church apart from the world. Satan attacks it from every side. But Christ is praying for us and we also are called to pray.
For the past three days, I have been thinking about the question of unity in our churches. All my life I have thought about the importance of unity, and as Jessica mentioned, how Jesus’ prayer emphasizes its importance. And all my life, the first thing I hear is “Ecumenism.” Certainly, there are truths that can’t be compromised, but we have got to begin loving one another and enjoying the “communion of the saints.” People are dying.
Dan, the disunity you are complaining about isn’t a recent phenomena, mostly created by the anonymity of the Internet, which allows any irritable person with a web server, and an axe to grind, to carry on his own private Heresy Hunting Ministry (of which there seems to be zillions).
But this sort of thing has been going on, way before the Internet ever came around. For example, just take a look at the history of xtian book publishing, and see how many hotly polemical books were being published in times past.
You need to look back at church history. Any objective look will show that disunity and factiousness has been endemic to Protestantism, going all the way back to when Luther and Calvin mutually anathematized each other, and anybody else they didn’t happen to like, for that matter. At some times the basic disunity has been relatively more quiescent; other times it boils out into the open, with everybody bitterly denouncing one another, or worse.
As to what the solution is, honestly speaking, Dan, I don’t know. I suspect there really isn’t any, at least not in this present Evil Age. In fact, I only see the problem getting worse and not better. It’s true the Internet does contribute to making it worse, but the basic problem has always been there, and badly.
Amen. I have been praying for it also. Through God’s grace,I will not fall into doing things outside God’s direction for the sake of it however.
The problem has always been pride. The Apostle Paul stated that all those in Asia had turned away from him. He also mentioned those who entertained sectarianism by following particular men.
The antidote has always been repentance and service. Who would be great was to be a servant and who would be the greatest to be the slave of all. To love God and our neighbor is the heart of unity!
In our day so-called servants take and give seminars on leadership. they avoid service and teach instead – or worse desire to teach.
In the bible, Is 58, Matt 6, Jam 4 and many other passages are about service to others. If I feel others need and understand there is a heaven and a hell then I can be their slave and build God’s Kingdom instead of attempting to rule it and profit from it.