Monday, September 2, 2013

on unity

Seeing that unity was the will of Jesus is one of the main reasons that I came home to the Catholic Church

One thing that always bothered me once I got serious about Christianity and started attending a Southern Baptist was the denominations within Christianity. The wonderful people I met in my new church were very helpful in teaching me the importance of the Bible. We had a wonderful youth group, and I learned more about the Bible than I had ever known before. It became part of my life. A part that I couldn't live without.

There was one Holy Bible - the inspired Word of God. Yet there are an estimated 8,000...or 30,000 denominations. I get dizzy at some of the figures I see, but the latest Wikipedia reports 41,000 denominations, so I'll go with 41,000. To be correct - it's actually 41,000 and counting. Churches aren't finished splitting. I could not reconcile how one Holy Word of God could translate into 41,000 denominations. Every single one of those 41,000 use the same Bible, and every single one of them would say they were the most accurate in their interpretation of Scripture. 

Does anyone else think that maybe someone might be wrong here? How on earth could 41,000 people be right using one Bible?! The Bible is THE WORD OF GOD!! And God isn't schizophrenic. There is only one Truth. And 41,000 denominations. It just doesn't add up.

One day I read some passages in John 17. I am sure I had read them before, but for the first time I really saw them for what they were (emphasis mine). 
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe 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 I 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." ~John 17:20-23 (NKJ)
This is Jesus' prayer after the last supper, right before He was betrayed by Judas. Luke's account of this time of prayer says that Jesus' sweat was like drops of blood. This was a very difficult time for Him as He prepared for His sacrifice. And he prayed for us. For us to be one. He cared that much about the unity of His believers - Christians. Not only that, but He also prayed in the following passage of John 17 for the Apostles - the leaders of His church - to be one.

Jesus' will is for us to be one. Disunity is against His will. I believe it grieves Him to see the state of disunity within His bride, the church. I don't want to be out of Jesus' will. I don't want to grieve Jesus.

3,000,000 Catholics participate in Mass in Brazil.
What a statement of hope to the world!
I've heard the response that we all somehow share in an invisible unity by being believers in Christ. Yet Protestants can't join worship services for a month before they start arguing about interpretations or who our leader will be. And then they split over disagreements. I think this "invisible unity" is a way to justify the status quo. I wonder what the world thinks about the unity of Christians? As the author of the blog Carpe Veritatem writes, "[divisions] causes people to look at us and say, 'How can Christianity be true, they can't even agree amongst themselves!'"

Human pride has caused the body of Christ to divide. I don't blame one side or the other - the pride and resulting problems started before 1517. Please read on at Carpe Veritatem posts about unity between denominations. There are 7 parts to the topic, and the author describes in more detail the unity that Christ desires and why we have the divisions that we currently have.

This is a huge topic to my heart, and I wonder if there are people "out there" who have given division within the body of Christ any thought? How do you think we can achieve unity within the body of believers?


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