Few things matter more to Jesus than the unity of His people, the church. Jesus said in John 17:23 “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
It would seem Jesus takes oneness for His people pretty seriously. It also seems, from this verse, it is possible to be one with other believers, churches, and denominations across the world who claim the name of Jesus.
As we all know, the most difficult people sometimes to remain one with are those who are closest in proximity to us. Real relationships are one of the most powerful things in the world that can become the most destructive if left unattended. We all know it is not possible to maintain perfect unity with anyone, much less the whole world, for a lifetime without conflict.
Conflict is that moment in time in a relationship where you get to find out what you really have or don’t have. It is what tests our spirits to determine if we are for others or just ourselves. For the past 17 years I have served as a church planter/senior pastor of Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs, and I have had my fair share of conflict. I have “fought” for the unity of the body. Sometimes with greater success than at other times, but I do believe I have rarely felt the heart of the Lord like I do when I “fight” for unity of His church.
God wants to use our lives to reach others. However, others can’t feel or experience His love through us most effectively if we are marred by the diseases that come from disunity in the body of Christ.
I have my fair share of battle marks to prove that unity is not an easy goal to attain with God’s people. I have had moments where I have banged my head against the wall wondering why I even try. But each time I want to waive the white towel on unity, I am reminded of this simple verse in John 17:23.
Jesus wants me, us, all of us to “fight” for unity because when we are perfectly unified the following things occur:
- The world experiences Jesus love for them through us.
- Jesus becomes the focus, not our agendas.
- Our relationships become like Jesus and the Father’s relationship.
- Selflessness creates space for God to receive more glory.
If these four things matter to you, and I am sure they do, then I invite you to join me across this world locking arms with our brothers and sisters who claim the name of Jesus. Be sure to invest in the work of unity in the kingdom of God, even if it doesn’t benefit your bottom line as a church. It may not “grow” your church, but it will grow Jesus’ church. And by the way, isn’t that what we are suppose to be about?
Colorado Springs, Colorado
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