The message I listened to today in the online Chapel Street Church service was about the prayer Jesus said for us in John 17:20-23:
“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
It got me thinking about what I see in my social media platforms: the polarization, division and disunity among the people with whom I am connected. Our nation is as divided as it ever has been in every possibly way. When we look at the church, do we see a contrast to what we see in the world? Or do we see the same kind of division and disunity in the church?
I know my initial reaction to those questions, but let’s not jump to conclusions yet. God’s word doesn’t go out and come back void. If Jesus prayed this, can’t God accomplish it?
When I look out on the Church and think about Church history, I see a lot of division and disunity. Our history books pretty much focus on it. Jesus said tares (weeds) would grow up with wheat. The disunity we see is certainly a product of divisive elements in the Church.
In fact, it occurs to me, we see disagreement right from the beginning: Paul disagreed with the Gnostics: the Corinthians were fighting over following Paul or Apollos; and even Peter and Paul disagreed over whether to continue to follow Jewish laws on foods and religious rituals.
Disunity seemed to spring up immediately. Or did it?
Paul would say the Gnostics were not true believers. They denied the deity of Jesus and the reality of the resurrection, among other things. Paul urged the Corinthians not to identify as followers either of himself or Apollos, but to identify as followers of Jesus only. The Holy Spirit settled the disagreement over the eating of foods and Jewish rituals when He gave Peter a vision that repeated three times followed by a “divine appointment” with Cornelius, a Gentile.
In the rest of this blog post I will explore Peter’s story, and maybe I will come back to the other examples in future posts. Continue reading “Reflection on the Unity for which Jesus Prayed: Peter & Cornelius”