Friday, November 15, 2019

The Only Way We Can Be One In The Spirit

I [Jesus] pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.– John 17:20-23

I was asked just yesterday if I had written anything about unity in the Body of Christ.  My answer was, “I think so – let me check.”  I woke up this morning with that thought on my mind.  Not what have I written about unity – I still have to check – but what do I know about unity.  Some of you who know me personally, know that Martie and I have bi-racial twin grandchildren. I have watched as they have struggled with ethnic identity. It is not like me – German – Irish – Scottish heritage – the result it a light complexion.  For them, with an African-American father and a German – Irish – Scottish – French mother, they are treated differently – Being bi-racial when the races are different in complexion is not the same.  When I would go to the store or some other setting with one of them I noticed that if the person we were addressing was white – they would speak to me first.  Of the person was of African American decent, then they would address my grandson or granddaughter first.  Like the one that was not the same color was not there. I remember showing a picture of the twins to Haitian friend for the first time.  They said – “Oh- they are black.”  I said – “No – they are my grandchildren!” I repeated that several times before they understood.  From my view – like my Father’s view – I look at the heart not the skin – not the bank account – not the house – or the car – or the education – or the accent – it is the heart.

So what about unity?  It is the Spirit that brings unity to people who are not the same on the outside. It is a spiritual reality that can only be understood in the context of faith in Jesus and spiritual understanding brought by the inhabitation of the Spirit of God.  As Christians we will never see unity in the Body of Christ – in the Church – if we start with the demand that the natural be made right before the spiritual can be realized.  That we must be equal naturally in all respects – before we can be right with each other spiritually.  That wrongs must be righted through the natural before we can ever hope to be one in Christ.  Even as I type those words – I wonder how is it that we have missed that?  The answer is simple – really.  But it is not acceptable. The answer is more of Jesus and less of me. That it not the outside of the cup that makes it unclean. It is a problem endemic to our sinful nature – the old man. 

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees [Christians], you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee [Christians]! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” – Matthew 23:25-26

I interjected the work “Christians” after Pharisees because Christians – no matter what they ethnic background or social standing are preoccupied with the outside of the cup.  The preconditions of unity must be submission to the Spirit of God – love God then others – obey God and treat others like you want to be treated.  Are you thinking it is not that simple.  That I have a simplistic view of the problem.  I don’t really think so. The answer is simply more of Jesus and less of me. But so long as we persist in identifying ourselves and others in the context of their flesh and status in the world’s economy – well – we will never be one and the world will never see God’s intent of our being one.  Then the world will know that you [Father God] sent me [Jesus the Son] and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

We can’t blame each other for the lack of unity – we can only look in the mirror and point our finger at that person.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” – Matthew 3:3-5

Last note.  Don’t expect to be praised by other Christians for your change of heart and desire to see unity in the Body.  The source of the problem of disunity is on both sides of the ethnic – social economic fence. But you are responsible for you – not for them.  The Bible says that if you know the good to do and don’t do it – that is sin. (James 4:17)

When I preached in churches in Haiti, the first time I would say, “Mwen pa Blan, mwen fre nou”.  I am not white – I am your brother. I was speaking from 2 Corinthians 5:17, that I am new in Christ and the old has passed away.  And so are they – but I was quite certain that they had never heard that, especially from a “Blan”. I am not certain they all believed it, but I am certain that there were those who saw me with Spiritual eyes as their Brother in Christ and not merely a “walking wallet”.

I spoke to a man at the Promise Keepers Pastors Conference in 1996.  I had just joined the staff of Promise Keepers as the state manager for Alabama and Mississippi.  He told me that there were not people of color in his county – should he go find someone to be reconciled to. I told him – only if the Lord led him to do that – but the important thing was that he be willing and the Lord would give him opportunity.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

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