His Name, Our Unity

John 17:11   (KJV)   11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

The Father has given His wonderful Name to the Son. It’s His very same Name that keeps or protects us. And one of the reasons His Name is keeping us is the oneness of His John 17.11 - His Name, Our Unitypeople—the church. The kind of oneness or unity he desires for us is that which is very intimate—as close as the oneness of the Father and the Son.

The unity of the church is very important to our Lord Jesus. It’s something I personally treasure, pray for, and pursue. Churches, preachers, and teachers talk about this, support and uphold this truth. But many of the actions I see seem to be very different.

An attack against the unity of the church is an attack against the Name of the Father. Our Father loves the Son, the Son loves His church—it’s His body. The Lord told us He will destroy those who destroy His temple. That’s completely understandable; we take that seriously. We pray that others humble themselves and honor the Name that protects them. As for us, we’re committed to it. We may not be as numerous as the needed voices, but we’re not silent.

On Leaders/Teachers and Words

James 3:1   (KJV)   1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

This sounds like trying to dissuade believers from becoming masters, leaders, or teachers. The obvious reason is given: those who are have greater responsibilities, James 3.1 - On Leaders-Teachers and Wordsgreater accountabilities, greater condemnation or stricter judgment.

The way the chapter progresses is very interesting; it’s followed by quite a strong discourse about how uncontrollable our tongues are. Connecting the introductory passage about being very cautious in aspiring to be leaders/teachers, to the context, we may say that since words of leaders/teachers matter a lot and carry a lot of weight and influence, we ought to really consider and really pray earnestly if it’s something we truly desire for ourselves and it’s a weight we we’re willing to carry on our shoulders.

For us leaders/teachers, we are all the more watchful of our tongues. We can never underestimate the damage it would cause. That’s why we avoid engaging in conversations about disputable matters. Often, those conversations lead us to speaking derogatorily—cursing—our brothers and sisters with the very same lips we praise our Lord and Father with. We are called to be humble even in the use of our words. We are to conduct ourselves with wisdom that flows from above—the kind of wisdom that’s peace-loving and gentle at all times. We ought to be peacemakers.

How sad that leaders/teachers have engendered many of our quarrels and divisions in the body of our precious and loving Lord Jesus because of our very incendiary words against each other. To the leaders, I implore: let’s watch our words. Let them be words of love, truth, unity, humility, and peace. If I’m not willing to humble myself, I would rather not lead and teach.

Dealing with Disputable Matters

Titus 3:9   (KJV)   But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

This is as straightforward as straightforward could be: we have to avoid foolish or ill-informed questions or discussions, foolish and proud discussions about genealogies or spiritual pedigrees, contentions and/or quarrels and/or dissentions and/or fights, even Titus 3.9 - Dealing with Disputable Matterswhen we’re dealing with the Law or God’s Word. Why should we avoid them? Why not get involved with these seemingly helpful discussions? It’s because they are unprofitable, useless, they’re a waste of our time, energy, and effort.

Aren’t all questions and discussions about God’s Word beneficial? The answer is obvious. We’re to avoid discussions that are foolish, disputable, and controversial. We avoid discussing teachings that lead to quarrels and fights. These are argumentable teachings that may be very clear in the Bible but the most well-meaning and most well-intentioned of us interpret very differently from each other.

“In essential teachings, we have unity; in non-essentials, we have liberty; in all things, we have charity—we have love.” There are essential teachings in the Scriptures; they are clear, absolute truths we don’t compromise. We teach them, spread them, discuss them, propagate them, and defend them. Then there are the disputable ones. We study them; we unbiasedly interpret what they teach. We believe what we humbly understand about them—with full conviction and persuasion. In dealing with those who believe otherwise; we keep our beliefs between ourselves and God. Why, I’d we’d rather talk to our brothers and sisters about those cardinal, non-negotiable teachings and practices that unite us, and lead us to loving each other deeper rather than those argumentable interpretations that lead to heartaches, quarreling, and even sin.

If any of you find a better and more Scriptural approach regarding disputable teachings or interpretations, I beseech you to educate me. Our hearts are after the Lord; He is the Truth; there’s no problem for us waving a white flag, bowing our hearts, and bending our knees to the authority of the Truth. Otherwise, let’s keep loving each other, united, and teaching the essential things of the Kingdom: righteousness, love, truth…

Indispensable Faith

Romans 4:20   (KJV)   20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God

We “give” glory to God when we’re strong in faith. Yes, faith matters. It’s worth is certainly upheld and emphasized when it comes to salvation.  My proposition is to keep on maintaining its value and worth in our lives as believers.  I’ve heard that there have Romans 4.20-21 - Indispensable Faithbeen extreme teachings about it from a certain group bearing something as important as faith in their name.  I’ll be quick to point out: I’m not a part of their group, nor do I identify with them.

This is also not in any way a rejection or denunciation of the group or any individuals from their group often presented as heretics and false teachers.  Personally speaking, the worst, most extreme, and most heretical teachings I’m aware of that they purportedly teach are those I’ve heard and read quoted by their “attackers.”  Truth be told, even those with audio and video clips, it’s possible to understand the logic in what they teach when taken in proper context.

Pardon me for always trying to make sense of the teachings of our brothers and sisters in Christ in areas where we may differ.  In the non-cardinal, negotiable doctrines, I firmly believe what I believe is true, but then again, they may be right, and I may be wrong. Why fight?

Going back to faith: it’s indispensably essential in our lives.  With it, we appropriate God’s grace for our salvation; we live by it instead of sight and feeling; without it, there’s no way we can please God, and as we just read from the above passage, with it, we give glory to God.  Many of our desires and prayers are answered by God according to our faith.  A quick clarification: we ought to not presume our prayers are not answered because of lack of faith.  I won’t cower from saying this though:  it’s possible that it’s also because we do lack faith.  That statement is in no way for the purpose of condemnation; it’s to encourage us, just in case we really need to step out and step up in faith and we just haven’t done so.  If we know we already have, that’s great; that part is at least already taken care of.

The Lord encourages us: “Have faith in God.”  It’s direct: it’s something we have to do; it is also suggestive: we may not have the faith we ought to have, but none of us dare call out our Lord as being condemnatory.  We understand what He’s saying; let’s extend the same gracious attitude to our brothers and sisters who encourage others to walk in faith. With love as the greatest motivation, our walk as believers is by faith—from start to finish.

 

One Body

John 17:23   (KJV)   23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

The Father and the Son share such inexplicable oneness that to see the Son is to see the Father. They are perfect in their unity and intimacy: The Father is in the Son; The Father and the Son aJohn 17.23 - One Bodyre one. Amazingly, that same relationship the Father has with the Son is the same relationship the Son has with us—His children, His church. As the Father is in the Son, so is the Son in us. As the Father and the Son have perfect oneness, so does the Son and the church.

One of the clearly expressed purposes of all the oneness they share is so that we as His disciples may also have perfect oneness. We ought to neither undermine nor diminish the importance of our unity; it’s a high call to the church; it’s a prayer that flows from the heart of our precious Lord Jesus Himself. It’s a prayer still so far from being achieved. Sadly, many of our churches march to the drumbeat of personal, or pastoral, or denominational pride. Many leaders are more engaged in lifting the banner of their unique personal interpretations of the Word and their denominational distinctives rather than pursuing the loving unity brought about by our common core beliefs—cardinal doctrines we share altogether as one body.

Many Christians faithfully labor—spending a lot of time, energy, and effort presenting the Lord Jesus to the world. And that’s admirable and praiseworthy. But they also negate the efficacy of their efforts because of the very obvious disunity that they create. This ought to stop. Our earnest prayer is that our Lord’s prayer for unity be answered. We on our part work to be an answer to His prayer. He has revealed a Kingdom key that will open the doors of people’s eyes so that they will see the authenticity of Jesus as the Messiah sent and loved by the Father, that we’re truly experiencing God’s love in and among us. That’s why we highly value our oneness. That’s why we passionately pursue the unity of our Lord’s church.