Our Sunday school class is studying Christianity and we began a section highlighting the three major branches; Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant. The lecturer, Luke Timothy Johnson, began by saying that Christianity has an ideal of unity. This ideal of being one in Christ is an ideal, a goal, which historically is difficult to attain.
St. Paul faced the challenge of creating unity within the earliest churches; the Corinthian and Galatian churches serve as prime examples. He writes this encouragement to the Ephesians:
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. -Ephesians 4: 1-6
How can we be one in the midst of diversity and differences?
As I pondered this question in our Sunday school class, my mind went to our worship. Each Sunday when the children gather with Gray for the children's sermon we share a ritual together. In unison, the congregation states the following:
God loves you and God loves me!
This simple ritualistic expression has mighty theological implications. To bring about unity you put self at the end. When we sing Jesus loves me this I know...we are focusing on the assurance of God's love for the self, but the unity of the church requires the outward focus on the other. God loves you! In this knowledge we can view the differences of others less as threatening and more as a gift of God's love.
God loves you and God loves me! To God be the glory!
Prayer for Today
Loving God, we thank you that you call us to be one with our Lord through our faith. Keep us mindful that you come visiting us in strange and unexpected ways; especially through others; always others. Amen.