Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
Ephesians 4:1-6 NASB
First, just let me admit one thing. I’m kind of a church junkie. That’s like the church version of being a gym rat. You hang out there, you spend time thinking about the church and any time someone starts a conversation about the church, you want to get in on it.
I know that a lot of people think that’s because I’m a pastor and being at the church is kind of my job. But, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. You can ask Miss Margie. I’ve always been like that, even before I felt called into vocational ministry at the age of 40.
So, what happens in the Church is important to me, and I don’t just mean the churches I serve as pastor. I’m talking about the Church with a capital “C.”
And, sadly, what I see when I look at the Church today is a complete lack of unity. I’m not talking here about unanimity, where we all think the same thing. I’m talking about unity where we are still One Church, even when we disagree.
And, we disagree about a lot. The existence of the numerous denominational and non-denominational bodies points out to us that there are things on which we disagree.
And, that used to be OK, because if we were honest with ourselves, our points of disagreement were much smaller that the broad areas of consensus and agreement that existed within the Church of Jesus Christ. But, I’m not sure that’s still the case.
I think that the primary reason for this is that the Church, the vessel in which Jesus invested all the power of heaven here on earth, that Body of Christ that He created and left in our hands when He ascended into heaven, THAT expression of the Kingdom of which He specifically called on us to be a part, is now a secondary consideration in the lives and minds of a lot of people who claim to be its heirs.
Their career goals, political ambitions and material possessions are their new gods and the Church is merely their power base for achieving the goals that are actually of importance to them. It’s become more about turf than Kingdom. The Body of Christ has become a voting bloc rather than the mighty army of God assigned to fulfill the Great Commission. It’s no wonder that we can’t find that unity of expression and purpose when we’re not even talking about the same things, anymore.
This competitive, “winner-take-all” mindset accounts for the fact that we feel a need to demonize the “others” in our lives. It’s become a zero sum game where there have to be losers in order to define winners. We’re no longer focused on extending the love of God to them, or even to recognize that they might themselves already be the recipients of that love.
We need to return to a Kingdom focus where everyone we see is a person for whom Christ died. We need to see the pursuit of the Kingdom as our single goal.
It’s OK to have various theological interpretations of Scripture that lead to a variety of denominational expressions of the Church, as long as we remember that we are One Church.
A few years ago my friend, Wilmer Guido, and I began to discuss the need for our Spanish speaking and English speaking congregations to recognize our common longer range goal, which was not to draw everyone to our personal language and ethnic context, but to draw them to the One Church where we were all working toward the same goal, without regard to the language being spoken or the food being served at the potluck. We simply referred to that desire in Spanish, Uno Iglesia.
Today’s Lent Scripture meditation reminds us that there is One Lord, One Body and One Spirit. We need to take a hard look at ourselves, not others, to determine if we continue to believe that. We can’t fix everyone else. We’re responsible primarily for ourselves first, in this context.
How about it for you? Are you in? Is it still Uno Iglesia in your life?
Always praying for you,
Your Older Brother,