These are the words that Jesus prays for his bride in John 17. Unity in the church, just as the three members of the Trinity are perfectly united. One Lord, Jesus Christ, head of one body, the Church, chosen to be his hands and feet in this world. It’s beautiful.
But take a look around at the bride of Christ today. Do we seem unified? I’m not talking about denominations, minor theological differences, or the way you practice the sacraments. Like it or not, as long as you believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and that he is the only one who was able to tear the veil between the Holy and the common, you’re a Christian (and so are the people at that weird church down the street where they speak in tongues and believe that the communion wine actually becomes Jesus’ blood).
No, it doesn’t matter if you practice baptism by immersion or sprinkling, if you think that communion is an act of remembrance or cannibalism, or if you believe in a literal or figurative 7-day creation. Those things may be a by-product of disunity among believers, but I don’t think that’s what Jesus was talking about when he prayed for each of us in the upper room. I think he was talking about how we treat each other in the body.
Brothers and sisters, I don’t know about you, but I see a lot of fighting over ridiculous things between Christians these days. Conservative believers argue against liberal believers all over the place (especially on social media), bickering about things like ISIS, Trump and Clinton, Planned Parenthood, homosexuality, etc. Each of us fights from our corner of the ring because we lament the way the world is and long for something better, but all the while we fail to realize that our political in-fighting isn’t solving anything, nor is it in obedience to what our Lord has asked of us.
1 John 3:23 says, “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us,” and then later in 4:20-21, “he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
Love doesn’t mean always agreeing with each other, but it does mean bearing with each other in spite of our differences, for “love is patient and kind…it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Cor. 13:4-5, ESV & NIV). How are you doing on that front?
Brothers and sisters, keep your political views, keep the things that make your hearts beat and cry for justice, but please, please, please, I urge you – don’t attack each other when you disagree! We, liberal, conservative, Bengali, American, or whatever else, are the Church, the body and bride of Christ. We represent our Lord to the entire world, and the entire world is watching. As they watch, will they see Christ’s love, or Satan’s hatred? That, as his Church, is up to us.
We were commanded to love our neighbors. How much more each other? Please, no matter who you are or what camp you sit in, as long as you’re claiming Jesus as Lord and Savior, let your words and actions be born out of love, even toward those you disagree with. He expects nothing less from his bride.
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