Can the Church please unite?
But… unite for what?
There’s just something about the concept of a Church in unity, isn’t it? And perhaps rightly so. After all, in his final week on Earth, Jesus prayed for His disciples to be united.
It’s not ridiculous to believe that God hasn’t changed His mind, that the unity of His Church is still the method He has chosen, through which the world will recognise His love for them.
“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 17:22-23)
A STRANGE FORMULA FOR CONVINCING THE WORLD
And it’s this equation that, in Francis Chan’s own words, messed with his logic.
The American preacher was one of the speakers at the recent Ravi Zacharias International Ministries’ Church Leaders Conference 2019 in the US themed “Blessed are the Peacemakers”.
For years, Chan thought that the way to prove Jesus Christ was through archaeology, history and prophecy. “How can they deny it?”
Then as a youth pastor, he thought maybe he’ll “bring in the captain of the football team and that cheerleader because if they come to Christ maybe we’ll bring in some famous people who believe in Jesus”.
But that’s not what Jesus said would work. Jesus says: When you become perfectly one.
How would the Church’s oneness make the world believe that Jesus is the Messiah?
“Why did Jesus pray for that right before he went off to be crucified? Why was it such a big deal to him at the end of his life here on earth that he prayed for those he’s leaving behind?”
“That’s a strange equation,” Chan confessed.
THAT ONE KID WHO FIGHTS FOR UNITY
As a father of seven children, Chan said that he’d want nothing more than to know that his kids are still united even after he’s not around any more.
He recounted a time when one of his sons got a little carried away.
“Zeke, I don’t know what kind of sick pleasure you get from teasing your little brother till he cries but you know what, it’s driving me crazy, so stop…” Chan’s wife, Lisa, said to their son.
His son got it immediately. “Ok mum, I’ll stop,” Chan said of his son’s response.
And it’s with this anecdote that the passionate preacher made his point: “God wants oneness among us.”
He painted a scenario: What if there was one of his kids that suddenly wanted to divide the others? And what if there was that one kid who refused to buy into division?
“Let’s not fight, that’s how how (dad) raised us.”
“I refuse to hate any of you.”
“If there was that one kid that was just trying to bring everyone together, I would just be looking at that, going ‘okay that’s my favourite right there,’” Chan told the audience.
“That’s the kind of child I want to be in the sight of God,” he said.
STRIVING TOGETHER AS ONE
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:27)
“When I think about the divisions going on in the Church right now… there’s a new heresy-hunting ministry every day that’s trying to divide this person, that person… I don’t know how you’re going to fix these hundred years of division.”
Speaking to a room full of church leaders, Chan did what he said: “I just know this is my start. I’m just going to start yelling ‘STOP IT! NO! THIS ISN’T WHAT GOD WANTED!'”
“(God) hates this fighting and when we become one – that’s when the enemy is gonna lose.”
“That’s when the world’s gonna believe in the Messiah. That’s when that fire is gonna come down upon the temple like it did in Acts 2 and fall upon His church, His temple – which is us.”
Chan encouraged the audience to use their gift to bring unity to the body.
“Because there’s a danger with those of us who fight for truth… and somehow there’s been this balance of grace and truth and love here in this ministry.”
Chan closed in prayer with these words:
“God, as we combat false teaching, may we be equally passionate about the unity of your bride and not neglect either. Fill us with the love of Christ Lord…
“Holy Spirit convict those who maybe need to apologise for arrogance, wrongful disassociation, judging. Help us to understand your grace.
“Let us understand that if we know any truth right now, it’s because of your grace. So how dare we judge…
“Holy Spirit please empower us… give us wisdom, put thoughts in our mind, wisdom from above (on) how to bring your family together.
“May we truly be your sons and daughters here by being peacemakers. In Jesus name, Amen.”
- How would you describe the unity in your church? What about in the wider Church in Singapore?
- What are the fault lines or potential areas of division?
- How can we better stand in unity with a fellow brother or sister in Christ?