July 14, 2013

Reconciled Through the Gospel

In light of the overt and palpable division in society today I felt compelled to post on unity today. I will not comment directly on the Trayvon/Zimmerman court ruling as it serves no purpose but to interject another opinion in a volatile debate. What I will interject is the Gospel and Christ Jesus as He is the only path to true unity and the Kingdom. The true Kingdom is where the King is and where He will be. Division and disunity is not of God.

Supernatural Reconciliation

Anyone that now knows my conversion story know that I was reconciled to my neighbor after 12 plus years of hatred and animosity towards my neighbor and it happened in a matter of days. My neighbor actually joked that until I found Christ he had never seen a miracle. That is supernatural reconciliation. Since that day years ago I have seen many other things happen that I cannot account for through naturalistic or evidential means. Some things are just not explainable without attributing them to God acting providentially in my life and other’s lives. Sometimes the only explanation is supernatural.

As we are often sinful and selfish in our outlooks in life we sometimes alienate people from ourselves that really should be close to us in a fellowship capacity. If we have driven them away it will usually require reconciliation. Human relationships are anything but perfect, too many sins get in the way, pride, envy, arrogance, etc. Because we cannot have perfect unity even as Christians there will be times when we will certainly need to lower ourselves in humbleness to achieve harmony with others by serving others in the faith that we do not see eye-to-eye with (Ephesians 4:1-6, 1 Corinthians 12:12-30). If we are doing what we should in a biblical manner in the faith it will be rare as Christians that we will need a supernatural reconciliation with others within the faith. I certainly imagine it is happening when trying to convert the non-believer. Why? Because every person that comes to Christ is a supernatural reconciliation of a fallen and condemned person back into the presence of a holy God! You don't actually think its anything you do, do you? I mean seriously people. In our conversion we achieve eternal life through Christ. Is there any other supernatural reconciliation that is more important?

Prayer For All Believers In Light of A World In Division

Jesus prayed for unity in the Body of His disciples and all that would follow in His footsteps.

“I do not pray for these alone , but also for those who will believe [all believers] in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them" John 17:20-26

It is here in these six verses in Jesus’ prayer for all believers that we see the heart of the New Commandment, the Greatest Commandments. It is rooted in the concept in the Shema. The unity of the body in Christ is the pattern. Why? It mimics the unity of the Trinity. It is the perfect completeness of the Godhead. The closer man can get to this in their relationship with other disciples/believers the better the probability of righteousness and avoidance of sin. The more likely believers are to stay holy and it has its roots in a communal relationship with other holy sanctified beings. To have a holy relationship with God and repentant believers that all have the mind of Christ. This is clear from Jesus’ earlier statement: “I in them, and You in Me…that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me”. I don’t know about you, but that sounds and awful lot like a Kingdom.

In short, Jesus prays that God's glory will be revealed in these things so…the nations may worship Him also. So the disciples and believers including us are tied together in unity of mind and purpose to participate in Jesus’ ministry. It is paradoxical that this prayer will come just previous to Jesus' own suffering and death. Even in the shadow of injustice and impending doom Jesus still prays for unity. That my friend is heavy and seriously profound stuff to contemplate.

We see this command exemplified one more time before Jesus gives up His spirit on the cross. We see it in one of Jesus’ comments from the cross. This comment comes in John 19:

“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:25-27

Those who are closest to Jesus that are able to look upon Him on the cross are given a charge or command as He looks upon them from the cross in His agony. Jesus tells them to look upon one another and care for each another. His words put a ball into motion. Jesus’ new (old) commandment (love your neighbor) now has wheels under it. He gave it to His disciples so that they could love one another. This is exactly why we should know and others should know that we are His disciples. It all ties together quite nicely. As if it was planned that way.

The fact is I do see a lot of division in society today, even within the church. It saddens me but I am not surprised. The Bible is clear. Man will not be the source of unity with other man. Christ Himself in the Spirit will be.

Ephesians 4:1-6 ~ I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to 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.

There is also unity in our diversity. (1 Corinthians 12:12-30)

We all need to care for one another.

1 Corinthians 12:25-26 ~ "...so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." 

By implication...if one part is dishonored...all are dishonored thereby dishonoring Jesus.

My parting thought comes from Chapter 21 of John. Jesus makes a statement in the last chapter of John that wraps up nicely this entire concept. Earlier Jesus had said to love one another as I have loved you, By saying this He was implying that they should emulate His example. What is the last thing Jesus says to Peter in His walk on the beach with the disciples?

"Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”  Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” John 21:20-23

In other words: In following Jesus we also obey the new commandment. Love one another as I have loved you...as He said...follow me.

I love you brothers and sisters regardless of what the world system wants me to do. The world system (κόσμος) be condemned for its behavior...because it will be. I want no parts of it because it reeks of disunity and disingenuous. We work and relate better when tightly wound around one another in strength but when we are frayed apart we become weak or in some cases worthless for what God wants to use us for...which is as an example of His unity before the unbelieving world. If we do not act as the salt and light (or rope) to the world and instead act as the example of a frayed rope, who does the world turn to as an example....other unsaved sinful humanity?

Jesus reconciled us to God by overcoming the most heinous thing in the world: Sin. It is sin that separated us from God. Jesus overcame sin through the most horrid suffering known to ancient man: Crucifixion. Through Christ's suffering the wrath of God due to sin was taken care of once and for all. Sin's grip on humanity was over and done. We must attempt to maintain unity in humility and meekness based in that very work that He did to keep that unity in place. We need to maintain unity in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The division I see today is not speaking well to this unity. I don't know much but what I am absolutely sure of is this: Disunity is not of the Spirit as God is a God of order and peace. We must pray for unity.

1 Corinthians 14:33 ~ "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace--as in all the congregations of the Lord's people."

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