I just responded to an email from Europe about the need for vitality and unity in a church there. I want to write this brief word to any who desire spiritual unity in their lives or in their churches.
Jesus prayed earnestly in John 17 that we might have unity. Unity is found in the presence of the Lord. Some churches who would insist that they gather in the name of the Lord and in the presence of the Lord do not have unity. Why? One possibility is an inadequate understanding of the Christian walk. There is however another possibility. God has allowed me to lead churches of various sizes for thirty eight years. In all of those years, I have enjoyed an unusual unity in the churches which I have served. To be sure, from time to time there have been disagreements that had to be worked out, but we always were carried back to a special oneness by the Spirit of God. Let me share with you what I believe has made that possible. With all my might, I have insisted that we keep the main thing the main thing. In fact I like to say it this way. “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” So what is the main thing? The church must do what Jesus did. What did Jesus do you my ask? In Luke 19:10 Jesus said, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” That is what we must do. Some might argue that Jesus met the needs of the sick and dying, fed hungry people, challenged injustices, and any one of many other things. A careful reading of the gospels reveals that all of those things were peripheral to the purpose he stated in Luke 19:10. Churches that focus on reaching out to the unreached can find unity in a purpose larger than themselves. This reaching out convinces them that without supernatural power they will fail. It drives them to prayer. It forces them to be creative. It leads them to devise a strategy. It is better to reach out and reach no one than to sit down and do nothing. God’s promise is that if you abide and obey you will abound. (John 15:5 -10)
Now for a parable; A group of fisherman went out on a lake and fished all day. They caught nothing. They argued about where to fish and how to fish. They argued about which lake they should have fished in. They camped out that night and tried again the next day. They caught many fish. They did not argue at all. When fisherman don’t fish they fight. Jesus said, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” When we are not fishing, we are not following.
Has it ever occurred to you that Jesus followed the Great Commission with the words, “and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the world?” He is never more with us than when we are on mission with him in the world. Where Jesus is, unity thrives.