There is a lot of talk these days about the Church, good and bad. I fear, since the talk seems to be mostly bad, that we have lost sight of what the Church really is, who we are– we who make up the body of Christ. So, for a-yet-to-be-determined number of posts, I’ll be discussing ways the Bible describes the Church and what that means to us. I’ll also be ending each post with a guide for prayer, so we can join together in calling upon God to make us who he meant for us to be.
This is an experiment. I hope you’ll read along, comment with your own thoughts, and most importantly, pray with us. To be honest, this is not to make me out to be some kind of double-edged sword-wielding prayer warrior. I have been struggling with my own prayer life, and this is, in part, a way to bring myself back before God’s throne. I hope (and pray) that you will join me there.
We Are Your Church. We Are: One.
May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me. I have given them the glory You have given Me. May they be one as We are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.
– John 17:21-23, HCSB
Jesus prayed that prayer for us. Let me say that again. Jesus prayed that prayer for us. He asked God to make us one in him. To unite us, so he could use us as a city on a hill, a light in the world of darkness, salt in a life of weak flavor.
He prayed that we would be completely one. Other translations read perfectly one, perfected in unity, brought to complete unity, etc. What’s wrong with that? We are obviously not completely unified. Did God decide not to answer his own prayer? If so, surely our prayers our doomed.
Of course not. Through his death and resurrection– his ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the Church– Christ provided the answer to his own prayer.
So? We’re still not one. Are we?
There is a constant paradox in the Christian life: the already/not yet. We are already justified in Christ, but not yet sanctified. We already have new life in him, but are not yet resurrected and glorified. We are already one in Christ, but not yet in perfect unity with one another.
And we won’t be in this life. Because we’re human. It’s impossible to always be one when our tendency is to make ourselves the only one. But, as with many of the other not yets, God expects us to let the reality of the already push us toward the not yet. God desires for us to ache and claw and strive to be one, even while we are not yet one.
Let’s pray for oneness.
God, let there be unity in our churches and in the global Church. Pray for your church specifically, local churches, other churches you know of, and the Church in general.
Break down the walls that we have so foolishly allowed to be built between us– walls of cultural differences, theological disputes, bitterness, preferences, and more. What walls do you see that need to be broken down? Call on God, the Master of Breakthroughs, to knock them down.
Father, do not let our eyes be turned inward to ourselves alone. Open them and turn them outward. Let us see the needs, joys, and potentials of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Who have you been blind to? Is it a specific person or group? Pray for God to give you his eyes toward them.
But please do not let us just see our fellow believers. Let us engage them with love. Help us not to be afraid to step out and make amends or to begin a new friendship or to risk breaking our vulnerable hearts. Ask God to show you specific ways you need to show love to others in your church.
Lord, we know sometimes we are going to feel alone. We know that our efforts for unity can be misinterpreted or ignored or scoffed at. Let us endure, with courage and peace, knowing that you are calling us to this oneness, and you have already done the work of ultimately binding us together in you.
Help us never to forsake truth for the sake of unity, but let the two always go hand in hand.
You are our God. You are One. You made us one in you. Now make us one on earth. Join our hearts, our minds, our hands. Let us follow you, together.
When I first decided to write this series, I thought I’d call it We The Church. Then, I thought We The Saints would be cool. Ultimately, I landed on We Are Your Church because of the song below. The other two titles, while cool, lack a clear recognition of dependence on God that I want to convey at all times throughout these posts. So, this amazing song by Rend Collective Experiment is our theme for this series. Take a listen:
COMMENT: When have you noticed unity among Christians in a place or situation you did not expect?
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy 11 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When My Church Split, One Reason I’ll Stay With the Church For Good, The Sunday Shuffle: Why Hopping is Good, But Squatting is Better, and We’re His: An Open Valentine to the Church.