We have been given glory!
This glory is the secret to Christian unity – not just within a particular church, but unity between churches and denominations. When the global church has complete unity, that lets the world know that Jesus is truly sent from God. That’s powerful witness – glory that produces unity!
So, for the church to experience its powerful witness, we must reclaim our glory, and relive our unity. So, what are they? What is our glory? And what will our unity look like? Thankfully, Jesus answered those questions.
Jesus prayed, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:22-23)
Our oneness is to be the same as the oneness that the Father and Son enjoy. This oneness is explained: the oneness that Jesus and his Father enjoy results from the Father being in Jesus. The oneness that we enjoy results from Christ being in us. Do the math! If Jesus in me makes me and Jesus one, and if you are one with Jesus, then you and I will also be one.
For instance, look at Jesus and John the Baptist. There could hardly be two people any more different in lifestyle and ministry! But they both had glorious ministries because they were following the same God. Their mutual respect was supreme. John said of Jesus, “I am not worthy to shine his shoes!” Jesus said of John, “He is the greatest prophect who ever lived.” Different ministries, different styles, different methods – yet together they threw a fabulous one-two punch for God’s kingdom.
God wants the same for us today. As we are filled with Christ’s Spirit, we have different churches, ministries, denominations – yet we throw a fabulous unified one-two punch for Christ’s kingdom. And our unity is demonstrated by how we talk about each other. “If only we could all learn holiness like those Nazarenes!” “Let’s see how those Presbyterians answer that question – they have probably thought through it better than anyone!” “How would Billy Graham do this gospel presentation?”
So, how can we speak highly of each other when we disagree so much? The answer is not in getting dumb and saying that our differences don’t matter! If we stop studying Scripture for better answers, then we lose our sancification. Proof? Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified through the truth – God’s Word! So if that’s not the answer, what is?
Our unity comes from our glory, our shared glory, which is Jesus Christ in us. So we are unified as much as we focus on Christ. For instance, we must study and decide how baptism is to be done, and who is to be baptised, and those answers do make a difference in our spiritual growth and in the effectiveness of our message and the purity of the gospel. But if we only focus on those differences, we become petty and divisive. May it never be! Let’s focus on our glory – which is Jesus Christ. Baptism is the celebration of a life transformed by Christ. And even in the cases where the baptism is done incorrectly, in the wrong place and at the wrong time, Christ is still powerfully working to change people’s lives and in that we rejoice.