Like movers, Christians can't carry load all by themselves
By Donald Waltz
Saturday, June 9, 2018
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” — John 17:20-21 (The Bible, New International Version)
Have you ever tried lifting a heavy piece of furniture by yourself? Maybe it was a couch or a kitchen table. Did you find someone else to help you carry it? If you did, I’m sure you saw how the weight was equally distributed. Imagine moving furniture for a living, but you only moved the furniture by yourself. You move furniture by yourself because you believe no one else moves furniture better than you. I’ve moved furniture for a living before and trust me, you can’t move pianos, entertainment centers and refrigerators by yourself.
I grew up in a very dogmatic church where I was taught our church was the only one who had it right. Any other type of denomination was wrong and wasn’t truly living for God. Because of this, our church did not fellowship with any other people from any other denominations, even though we may have had many similarities of faith. Unfortunately, I carried these beliefs about my faith throughout my life, even when I changed denominations. It was not until I read John 17:20-21 did I realize I was wrong about my lack of fellowship with other Christians of differing denominations.
In this 17th chapter of John, Jesus is praying to God for his disciples. He then moves on to pray for all believers, which means Jesus is praying for us Christians today. There are two important things that Jesus prays about concerning us. The first one is that others will believe Jesus is the son of God, who died for our sins and was resurrected, through our message. The second one is Jesus’ desire for unity among Christians. Christianity is divided by denominations, but not necessarily belief.
According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, there are 33,000 different Christian denominations worldwide. Do doctrinal differences play a role? Sure, but I would bet that many Christians would be surprised to find out how much more in common we have than not. People break away from each other over different views and ideas when we should be coming together for Jesus. So, what is our message? Is it “come to my church because we are the only ones being blessed by God?” Or is it “You should come to my church because we’re the only ones who have the scriptures interpreted correctly?”
Jesus desires for unity amongst his followers. Regardless of our denominations, politics, race, sexual orientation, gender, etc., we should all be in communion with one another. Jesus literally says the world will know that God sent his Son Jesus to die on a cross for the world if we stick together (John 17:20-21). I think when we get to Heaven we will be surprised by what we were wrong about in our faith.
Just like the mover analogy, I hope and pray that Christians, regardless of differences, would come together as one body of Christ and work together.
Donald Waltz is pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ.) The opinions expressed in this column belong to the author and may not be those of Mid-Atlantic Christian University.