Tag Archives: unity

Looking at Scripture | Mark 3:20-27

9 Nov

PARAPHRASE (mine)
Jesus had been out speaking to the multitudes. He and the twelve return by boat. Jesus heads back to the house where he is staying. He sits down to eat with friends. The towns people, hearing that Jesus is there, begin to fill up the house. He recounts stories of the day. Soon there are so many people in this house, that those who were eating can no longer raise their bread to their mouths. Jesus’ family hears of this gathering and squeezes their way into the house to take Jesus away. His brothers shout, “He’s out of his mind, people. Let us through so this crowd can be dispelled.” His kin were not the only ones who wanted to discredit Jesus. Scribes appeared in the house as well. “He is not out of his mind, rather he is possessed by a demon. By Beelzebub. For he who drives out demons could only be a demon himself.” Christ then stands, calms his family, and addresses the scribes in parables. “How is it that Satan can drive out Satan?” Then turning their conventional wisdom upon them he says, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. AND (addressing his family members) if a house is divided against itself that house will not be able to stand. AND if Satan rises up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand but comes to an end.”

EXPOSITION
There is a lot going on in this passage. There’s a lot going on. Jesus returning. Hoping to finish out his day with a quiet meal and conversation with his friends. But what he gets instead is more of what he’s encountered already that day. People anxious to connect, to hear what he has to say, to be healed by his hands, to cast the demons out of their lives and experience life anew in Christ. And because of this they come in droves–filling up the place where he is. His family shows us. They think he’s nuts. And while Christ loves his family, his heavenly position and duty to God take precedence. Then we have scribes (always a pleasant bunch) who have come to chastise him. They seek to cast doubt into the hearts of the crowd. [Remember this was a house packed wall-to-wall with people by the time these guys arrive.] his family proclaims to the crowd that he’s loony. The scribes say he’s a demon. A servant of Satan. Jesus then rebukes the scribes and his family. And in so doing makes a little dig at the religious establishment. For just as Christians today are divided; certainly the Jews in Jesus own day were divided. Ultimately his goal was to rally the troops. To gather people in unity of purpose, belief and faith. That all would one day be ushered into the Kingdom of Heaven.

PRAYER
God help us to pay attention to Jesus’ words. His teaching, his parables, his warnings. Help us to listen to one another. To seek to build one another up in Christ and not tear down what you have built. Let us gather in your house, engage in lively discussion, and break bread together. Let us think before accusing our brothers. But also let us not forget that there is real evil in this world. We do have an enemy. He does not celebrate our progress or our unity. He’d rather have us fragmented. Accusing one another. Confusing our flock for his own. Lord, give us strength, wisdom, patience, kindness, discernment and right minds as we pursue your truth.

Trumpet Call To unity (1Cor 1:2 & 1:10)

18 Jun

In the opening lines of 1 Corinthians we already hear the trumpet call to unity as Christ’s church.

1:2 “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours” [ESV]

The key word here is “together”—we are “called to be saints together with all those who…call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Because he is “their Lord and ours.”

It is so easy to push pass this line as we read through this text. But let this sink in for a moment. Especially in light of where Paul is about to go with the first portion of this letter.

What does it mean to acknowledge the universal church? Are we acknowledging the universal church? Are we honoring of our Christian brothers and sisters across the globe…across the street.

It is a lot easier to seek division from Christians by any other name, rather than to seek fellowship with them.

1:10 “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours” [ESV]

Paul addresses the church in Corinth but he might as well be addressing “the church of God that is in [enter your city here].” If we find sanctification in Christ Jesus, then we find a common union with people all across this globe who “call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

How quickly we turn our eyes from the Gospel to the writings of theologians who are in “our camp” so to speak. “I follow Tim Kellor.” “Dude, I follow Mark Driscoll.” “I follow Luther.” “I follow Calvin.” “I follow the Pope.” All of these men have written, preached, said things that are worthy of our attention and helpful in our Christian walk; but, if we let our adherence to their writings cause division among us, then we have placed the writings of these men above scripture—which is not such a good thing.

As Christians we are to find a connection in Christ. We are baptized in His name. We profess faith in His name. We all find salvation in His atoning work. We join in common union through the remembrance of His body and blood. And thus as Christ followers all we must seek to unite under the banner of His love.

Where We Come Together

7 Jun

Is there a common ground where ALL Christians can comfortably worship together? Certainly. If we profess Christ, then we can certainly glorify Him together in prayer and in song. While creeds may provide hang-ups for some; the Lord’s Prayer is certainly a text we might all join in to recite. Many hymns and contemporary praise tunes also do well at moving across denominational boundaries and being embraced by many. Study of scripture (if we can be neutral on our embrace of translation) is another area we should all see as valuable to our Christian walk. Certainly we can all acknowledge God’s hand in creation and his mark upon each of us, His image bearers.

“One Body” Politics

7 Jun

Ecumenism is a nice—but implausible—idea. As long as we seek to maintain the denominational walls that divide us within the broader Christian faith we can never achieve unity. What we have instead is Christian pluralism. And even there you will not find many who would endorse that all Christian roads lead to the one. What we need is unification. The body of Christ must be one. We must come together as children of the living God. We must acknowledge our common union in Christ. And we must give up our denominational identities and unite under the umbrella of Christ alone. Guided by scripture alone.

I’ll try to unpack this some more in future posts exploring: possible solutions; why unification is necessary (and scriptural); what if Christians fail to unite in Christ.