Oneness, the desire of both God and man. It is the heart cry of The Father, and it will be the great lie of the antichrist. The Father longs for his children to get along so well that we move and act as one.
Even we long for unity between ourselves and between ourselves and Our Father, though we often can’t see our way to Our Father’s heart or to reconciliation with our fellow man.
And, admittedly, it is often a difficult and trying venture to maintain between ourselves “the spirit of unity in the bond of peace” and to live with Christ as “one in Spirit.”
In the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John, Christ prayed that we would all be unified with one another, with The Father, and with himself. He gave two means for this unity, our common name and his personal glory bestowed upon us who believe.
The unity from a shared name is the easiest to realize and mimics that unity found in natural families that share the same last name. It mainly requires that we just accept each other and help each other.
The second means that he gave for our unity, his glory bestowed on us, is a deeper unity, and it requires some cooperation to achieve it, for we must have some understanding of the nature of this inherited glory and then respond to it by nurturing it in our individual lives and in the life of the church.
The best way to describe these two aspects of unity is to observe the unity between children in a family as they grow into adulthood.
As children, all that is needed for a mutual feeling of unity in the family is the simple fact of a shared name and ancestry. As children mature and grow and discover each other’s unique gifts and powerful ways of expressing the family identity, their bond of unity matures; their unity is now partly based on the shared “glory” of the family legacy.
There is still the unity of the shared name and blood, but now the unity is deepened by the broader understanding of what it means to be part of the family.
Christ spoke, “I have given them my glory, that they may be one.” In the Old Testament, God said, “My glory I will not share with another.” So, what has happened under the new covenant in the New Testament?What is this glory of Christ that Christ now bestows on us his followers?
Christ’s glory while he was on earth was the fact that he was God The Father’s sole representative to the world.
If you wanted to find out anything about God during his day, you had to come to him. Knowing him was the key to the kingdom.
Now, we are in charge.
Today, if someone wants to inquire regarding the nature of the kingdom, they must come to us. Granted, they might be able to read the New Testament for themselves and enter into a covenant relationship with Christ based solely on their own reading and Holy Spirit led prayer. However, practically speaking, most people need someone to tell them about Christ and explain to them who he is.
That someone is now us.
Christ’s glory has at least three unique aspects: his devotion to the Father, his devotion to the kingdom, and his devotion to us. He perfectly reflected The Father’s love. This glory that is now ours has at least three unique aspects: our devotion to Christ, our devotion to the kingdom, and our devotion to one another. When we are “walking by the Spirit”, in obedience to Christ, we can powerfully express the Father’s heart to the world, just like Christ did.
In fact, Christ himself abides powerfully and passionately in each of us, working through each of us as we play our individual parts, for each of us is now a unique and invaluable member of the “body of Christ”, the church.
To facilitate our working together as a team, each of us has been endowed with one or more “spiritual gifts” as described in Romans chapter 12, 1 Corinthians Chapter 12, and Ephesians Chapter 4. Ironically, these gifts that were designed to unite us have sometimes been the very vehicles that drove us apart. This is not altogether bad, for if we disagree and move apart for the sake of peace, then we may expand into new territory and reach people with whom we otherwise would never have come into contact.
However, at some point, we may have to be mature enough to come back together to work together with those with whom we may not fully agree, especially in complex projects such as community evangelism and city wide revival.
Cooperation is needed because individual churches often excel in one aspect of the kingdom while neglecting other just as important aspects of the kingdom. No one church has the market cornered on truth. The full expression of church life requires the various proficiencies of the different denominations.
We all need to respect the reverence of the Catholic liturgy, the freedom of Protestant teaching, the powerful representation of zeal in the charismatic churches, and the intimacy and community of house churches. As is stated in 1 Corinthians 12, “the eye cannot say to the hand nor the head to the foot, ‘I have no need of you.’”
Within each church, there should be a multiplicity of spiritual gifts in operation. There are seven gifts listed in Romans 12, nine in 1st Corinthians 12, and five more in Ephesians 4. There are gifts of leadership, mercy, service, teaching, prophecy, and healing. There is the gift of tongues, the interpretation of tongues, the discerning of spirits, wisdom, and knowledge. There are evangelists that excel in preaching the gospel, pastors who specialize in caring for the needs of the saints, prophets who hopefully keep the church focused on Christ, and apostles who venture out and start new churches. Each gift is precious and needed in Our Father’s great house.
The scripture declares two aspects of the acquisition of these gifts. First, that “the Holy Spirit distributes the gifts to each one as he wills.” Second, that we are to “desire earnestly spiritual gifts, especially that we may prophecy.”
So, we see that there is a sacred partnership between us and God. He does his part, we do ours, and everyone is blessed.
As far as the utilization of these gifts, there is divine order in the way that these gifts should manifest, and we do well if we observe these guidelines. Ignorance of the proper place and practice of the gifts is just as undesirable as is the ignorance of the gifts. We must “study to show ourselves approved, workmen who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of God.”
When we are diligent to fulfill our responsibility in the ministry of the word of God in the church of God to the children of God, blessings abound.
People grow and mature, heaven is pleased, and people are saved. The much ballyhooed revival that has been promised and proclaimed as imminent may actually come to fruition.
Our Father and Jesus are always willing and waiting to fulfill their responsibility in our lives for Christ is the “author and finisher of our faith.” As Psalm 80:17,18 says, “Let your hand be upon the man of your right hand, upon the Son of Man whom You made strong for yourself. Then we shall not turn back from you. Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.”
~ Brad Heilhecker
Lead image by Robert Koorenny – Unsplash