Why is it that the world is not drawn to Jesus?
The reasons are
many, but I want to hone in on just one today: Unity!
Jesus' last recorded prayers before He went to the cross is this: "I
pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one--as you are in
me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world
will believe you sent me." (John 17:21 NLT)
In this famous
prayer, Jesus is hinting at the truth that unity in the church will help
a lost and hurting world understand that God did, indeed, send Jesus!
In my communications with people from other religions, I am saddened
by the many examples they mention of disunity amongst Christians. They
point out how there are so many different Christian denominations and
cults, and they wonder how they are ever supposed to believe in the
Bible when Christians can't even agree on what it teaches. They remind
me of the crusades, where Jews and Muslims were murdered in cold blood,
all in the name of Jesus Christ. They ask why they should want what
Christians have when what they see is disunity, unforgiveness, jealousy
and bigotry in the church. What am I supposed to say? Anything but
"guilty" would be less than the truth...How can I tell them of Jesus'
love, when they don't see it amongst Christians?
In a recent
trip to Tasmania, we had the privilege of visiting a small catholic
church. My husband and I made up about a 5th of the total congregation,
and we were very blessed by the message given by the priest. When it
came time for communion, however, the priest refused serve me. His
reason? I was not catholic.
A few weeks later, while visiting
the Australian outback, we had the privilege of visiting another tiny
church. This congregation did everything in their power to reach out to
the indigenous people of Australia, and about half of those who attended
that Sunday were of indigenous backgrounds. I was delighted to see this.
However, I noticed that the indigenous people were segregated from the
British-background Australians, and immediately the words of the Apostle
James came to mind: "If you show special attention to the man
wearing fine clothes and say, 'Here's a good seat for you,' but say to
the poor man, 'You stand there' or 'Sit on the floor by my feet,' have
you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil
thoughts?" (James 2:3). Not knowing anything about indigenous
culture, I immediately went into action and I sat down beside a lovely
old aboriginal lady. To my utmost shock, she soon got up and moved to
another place...I have no idea what cultural barriers I overstepped in
sitting beside that lady, and I don't pretend to point a finger of blame
at anyone in the church building. But the bottom line was that although
the indigenous people were attending, there was no unity between them
and the British-background Australians.
These two incidences
saddened me. Not because I felt that the catholic priest treated me as
less-than-Christian. I understand that it was his strong belief and
conviction that I, not being Catholic, should not partake of communion,
and I do not judge him for this. I also did not feel put down when the
aboriginal lady moved away from me. I understood that there were
cultural lines that I had inadvertently crossed. Nor was I saddened to
have found this in Australia, for such examples are, sadly, very
commonplace throughout North America and Europe as well. What saddened
me is that as the church at large, we are not one in Christ...
There was this other place in Australia, however, that is worthy of
mention when it comes to the subject of unity...We were visiting a
little wildlife preserve in the town of Bagara in the state of
Queensland, when we happened upon a pond. The pond was home to thousands
of water birds, and for a while we enjoyed photographing the cattle
egrets, the snowy egrets, the coots, the ducks, the black swans, the
pelicans and the herons. An island in the middle of the pond soon caught
our attention, however. Every tree on the tiny island was absolutely
covered with birds; but what truly amazed us was that each tree held a
variety of different bird species, all roosting together!
Now I've raised birds, and I know that different bird species
generally do not mix. I've also visited a number of different wild bird
roosting areas, and again, they are each specie-specific. Yet there, on
that tiny island in the middle of the pond in Bagara, Queensland, were
at least 8 different species of water birds, all roosting together in
the same trees...
Friends, the church needs to take lessons from
these wild birds: we need to stand in unity with one another. If we do
not, we will fall; and the watching, unsaved world will have no reason
to be drawn to Jesus Christ.
My prayer for today? "I pray
that they will all be one, just as you and I are one--as you are in me,
Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will
believe you sent me." (John 17:21 NLT)
Just one more
thought. We can't change everyone. We can only change ourselves...But if
each of us would try for unity, the church would be able to stand as
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author --
"Aboard God's Train -- A
Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet
Scriptural Nuggets, a
website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with
Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.