Sometimes when we think about or talk about Christian unity, we do so in terms of what we can do to create unity or cause unity or foster more unity. What we need to understand is that we already have unity. It’s already been given to us.
All Christians are united. All Christians are unified. All believers are together. It’s a gracious gift of God. We can’t do anything to cause Christian harmony. Christian unity is already an eternal reality. It’s just a matter of whether we want to accept it or not. Will we live into it, or not? Will we embrace the God-given and God-ordained blessing of unity or reject it?
“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.” ~John 17:22-23
Through Jesus we are given a profound spiritual intimacy with the Father and Son that changes all of human life. It’s a unity that encompasses the Father with the Son, all Christian disciples with them both, and, in turn, with one another. Jesus’ whole prayer in John 17 proclaims that unity is not something we maintain. Christian unity, this deep relationship and fellowship between all followers, is what God through Christ has already given us and continues to maintain through the power of his Holy Spirit.
“We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” ~1 John 4:13
Jesus lives inside us. We are part of that holy communion, that holy community, with the triune God. It’s not because of anything we’ve ever done, but because of this great gift.
“That I myself may be in them.” ~John 17:26
Those are the last words Jesus says to God before he’s nailed to the cross. His last desire is to indwell his followers, to fill them with his glory and joy, so we will all be one. Together. Unity.
John 17 shows us the intimacy and character of the relationship that exists between the Father and Son. We see clearly the unity — the community — that marks their very nature. This oneness is then given to us. Jesus says, “I’m giving them the glory you gave me that they may be one, just like us. I’m giving them the power of your name that they may be one, just like us. I’m living inside them by the Holy Spirit that they may one, just like us.” We have been given this oneness with the Trinity and with everyone whom God has saved.
As his children, this unity is our new nature. This is now who we are: one with Christ and one with his followers everywhere. What that means is that there is very little, if anything, outside of denying Christ as divine Lord by word or deed, that can ever separate us. And if that’s the case — and it is! — then living into that reality in a way that speaks to a lost and dying world requires that we make every effort to love one another. Serve one another. Build one another up. Bear one another’s burdens. Submit to one another. Defend one another. Give one another the benefit of the doubt. Speak well of one another. Protect one another.
Paul says that’s the difference between spiritual infancy and maturity. That’s the difference between being tossed about and held together. Between deception and truth. Between things of human origin and things of Christ.
To all preachers: click here for a recent word of encouragement and discipline from Terry Rush’s blog, Morning Rush.
Elders: a similar exhortation here.
Whitney’s Richland High School Rebels got blown out by Arlington Bowie last night in the first ever high school playoff game in Jerry Wayne’s new stadium. My alma mater, Dallas Christian, is hosting their/our bitter rival, Fort Worth Christian, in a bi-district playoff game this evening. Whitney and I will be there at Chargers Field tonight. I’ll have to bribe Valerie and Carley with the prospects of cotton candy or Sour Skittles to get them to go with us. Carrie-Anne couldn’t care less. I’m looking forward to showing the girls around the campus. I’ll probably spend most of the evening telling them old stories as the place and the setting flood me with wonderful memories. I’m hoping to see lots of old friends, classmates, teachers, and even a couple of coaches tonight.
Here’s a really strange thing: I’ll probably have more friends dressed in red sitting on the visitors side.
It’s weird living and working and ministering here in FWC’s community. I drive by Fort Worth Christian at least once every weekday taking Whitney to Richland. I know a few of the teachers and coaches. Several of our families here at Legacy attended FWC and/or have kids at FWC. One of our elders here used to be Fort Worth Christian’s superintendent. I play basketball at Cardinal Gym every Thursday. I speak to the high school at FWC chapel at least once a year.
Great people. Great friends.
Tyler Graves, our Legacy Cardinal football player, had a great game for FWC. A great Jason Witten-esque kickoff return in which he gained several tough yards after having his helmet knocked off, an interception, tons of tackles, and a touchdown catch that was called back because of a phantom interference call on the other side of the field. DC was too much, though. 55-32.
Whitney and I sat with Jeff (Low Budget) Majors and his kids on DC’s side in the first half. We also visited with Todd Seabourne, who has a kid playing varsity, and Don Clevenger, among others. At halftime we hung out in neutral territory in the north end zone where we ran into Scott Webb, John Scott, and even Coach Richmond (skiddy-bop!). He said “hi” and then went right into a discussion of the Savage Fake that won the game against Metro Christian in ’84. We spent the second half with the visitors. Lots and lots of Graves and Alexanders. Drake and Dave Brown were there, too, occupying themselves by calling the referees’ religion into question. Loudly.