Near the end of Christ’s ministry, the disciples asked Him what was most important to knowing God and sharing the message. The answer was clear and to the point, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: Love your neighbor as you love yourself. The whole Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets depend on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40
The unity Christ desires for His church is the same kind of unity the Son has with the Father: “Just as You are in Me and I am in You” (John 10:38; 17:11, 23). The Father did His best works through the Son and the Son always did what pleased the Father. This spiritual unity is to be patterned in the church. Without a union with Jesus and the Father (they . . . in us), Christians can do nothing of significance. The goal of our lives is to know the Father, do His will, and love one another.
Like a cancer attacking a physical body we see too much of the back-biting, petty jealousy, rumors, miss-understandings, and gossip eating at the very spirit of many churches and para-ministries. How can we expect un-churched people to know our love if we are fighting petty battles within our congregations and friendships?
Lately I’ve seen many churches from the inside-out. Too often, there are folks who focus on the things that separate us rather than place their attention on the love, grace, joy, mercy, and kindness we share. Unity of the body is important to its function. I’m convicted and convinced that we can disagree, provide contrasting opinions, and challenge others without being un-caring, un-loving, or unkind.
With God.- having unity among believers accomplishes two important things: (a) that the world will believe in His Son’s divine mission of knowing God more fully while sharing His love, and (b) that the world will sense that God’s love for believers is deep, intimate, and lasting as is His love for His Son.
Read Christ’s prayer for His Church: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:21-26
As I read those words, straight from the mouth of Jesus, I am convicted and committed to living a life that expresses more of Christ’s love to others. I earnestly pray that you have the same commitment for your life.
How are the Scripture verses in this devotional speak to you? At Christmas we celebrate the love that God gave us through His only begotten Son. During Easter we acknowledge the sacrifice His Son made for us to have eternal life. What can you do to pass this message on to others? Make a decision right now and determine to carry it out this week.
Jim E. Grassi, D. Min.