Kingdom Principle: Glory is not a means to unity, Love is.
|Acts 16:16-34||Psalm 97||Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21||John 17:20-26|
In the lectionary calendar during this week the ascension of Christ from this earth is marked. 40 days after his resurrection, Christ returns to the heavens with a two-fold promise. First, I will send the Holy Spirit. Second, I will come again. While next week we will celebrate Pentecost, which is the coming of the Holy Spirit, this week we celebrate the truth that He is coming again quickly. As the disciples watched the Lord ascend to heaven as when He returns, we will stand under the clouds and understand with clarity all that is coming to pass. On that day, every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Phil 2:9-11)
Unity can be defined as being in a state that is undivided or unbroken. This is not biblical unity. The world enjoyed this unity with one common language and a mutual goal: to build a city, with a tower that reaches the heavens. So in unity – humanity collaborated together in undivided and unbroken dedication to achieve a goal. (Genesis 11:4) Yet this display of unity displeased God to the point that he separated them all over the earth and confused their language. How can a God who longs for unity, be so disappointed with humanity’s efforts to be unified?
The answer is simple; if Love is not the basis of unity, then whatever unifies people will fail to display God’s glory. The problem of unity is that love breaks you and even becomes a dividing line of truth. So the higher purpose of unity is to display glory. In an effort have unity the church has reached for glory. The attempts to do something glorious in order to call for unity are yet to work. God desires His glory to be displayed, but will not allow His glory be confused with a man-made version of Glory. (Isaiah 43:6-7, 48:9-11, Matt5:16, John 14:13, Acts 12:23, Romans 11:36, 1 Cor. 10:31) And if anything less than God’s glory is displayed then it has no eternal value. And as C.S. Lewis has said, anything that lacks eternal value is eternally useless. We see this today in so many attempts to unify –whether it be by the church or nations… They set contracts, agreements or doctrinal statements often reducing things to the lowest-common denominator and then unify around a mutual and often noble goal. But again if that goal is not Love – then unity will not result.
The irony is that God has chosen “us” to be the display of his Glory. (Ephesians 1:4-6, 12, 14) This week we wrap up the concept that in knowing the I AM –our I. A.M. is revealed. Each of us has an Identity, Authority and Motivation which reveals God’s unique purpose and calling in our lives to serve his Kingdom Come. Discovering your I. A.M. does not elevate you to a higher status rather it brings glory to the Great I AM. Your I. A.M. is God’s holiness in you expressed in confident humility bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:1-2) This is because all those who know their I. A.M. become unified in the love of the Great I AM. We can’t create unity, we simply step into unity. The prayer of Jesus is not to rally the church to become unified for the purpose of having a global impact, nor for causing the lost to notice them, nor even to unify the believers in the world so that they can demonstrate unity. Rather the prayer of Jesus is that all those believe will be one, as the Father and Jesus are one. This is a cry for unity so that love can be in them. This has nothing to do with conformity, or even unified diversity; rather it opens the door to intimacy in the face of adversity. We are not to seek unity, rather we seek to be found in Him. John 17 was a prayer to the Father, not a mandate to the church. Jesus prayed this to the Father, so let us follow his lead and pray for unity and oneness, rather than focusing our efforts on being the answer to the prayer. Let us pray and allow God to shape us on the journey.
Unity was displayed in the jail cells of Paul & Silas after the earthquake. They were bound by love not simply shackled in prison; yet it was the jailer who needed to be saved. This expression of love & acceptance had not hint of judgment as if they did not deserve to be in jail. But the jailer did not know this nor did Paul do anything other than to authentically worship God everywhere he found himself. Their signing was an expression of love. And because there was love others felt accepted, hence unity was expressed and glory was given. If Paul first would have sought (worldly) glory, by demonstrating power to break-out of the chains, then rallying the prisoners to his side (expressing unity) then calling for the jailer to join with them because of Love – it would make a great movie, and demonstrate the wrong motivation. Which leads us back to our I.A.M.
While we can’t make unity happen, we can do things that prevent unity. This is where the call to “stand under” before we can “understand” is a must. The barrier to unity we are to remove is judgment. (Matt 7:1-5) Yet it is clear in this weeks Scriptures that there are “insider’s” and “outsiders”, the “saved” and “lost”, and that God brings “destruction” to some & “delight” to others. Those who love the Lord are even called to hate evil. How then can judgment be a hindrance to unity? When we stand in judgment attempting to bring conviction of change– we are working against the prayer of unity. This is because we are attempting to do the work of the Spirit rather than being led by the Spirit. (John 16:7-9) May it suffice to say here – Love is Just, not to Judge. There is only one true Judge and we are not the one. We must move in Love, acceptance and forgiveness. A book by the same title shares the valuable inside that “The church is not broken and it is the broken people who can change the world.” The call this week is not to minimize what it means to be separate; rather call is in our separation to bring understanding of what it means to be saved.
In seeking holiness as means to unity, we embrace our inability to make unity happen. Unity is a bond of the Spirit of Peace. (Eph 4:3) In Holiness we shall walk the path of Submission and Separation from which we will stand under those who walk in Stardom and Splendor in the world. This stance “under” others in this world yields a humility and confidence that allows us to stand in the presence of God- to even see Him Face-to-Face. (Matt. 5:8) “Under” is in relationship to the power and positions of this world, so that God’s granting of favor and flow are displays of Glory demonstrating our unity with Him.
Do you desire Unity – Learn 2LAF (hopefully this is a future post)
Listen – Accept – Forgiven Love – Appreciate – Forgive
In the pursuit of Holiness, (2LAF) it will break you from the patter 2CRI
Condemn – Reject – Ignore Conceal – Rationale – Inflate
Which of the 6 words above describe you and how you interact with others, especially those you are not in unity?