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Summary: We can celebrate our denominational differences without it causing division because Jesus was clear in his prayer that we are to be unified in spirit and purpose.

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AUTHOR, CHUCK SWINDOLL, WROTE THAT “UNION HAS AN AFFILIATION WITH OTHERS BUT NO COMMON BOND THAT MAKES THEM ONE IN HEART. UNIFORMITY HAS EVERYONE LOOKING AND THINKING ALIKE. UNANIMITY IS COMPLETE AGREEMENT ACROSS THE BOARD. UNITY, HOWEVER, REFERS TO A ONENESS OF HEART, A SIMILARITY OF PURPOSE, AND AN AGREEMENT ON MAJOR POINTS OF DOCTRINE.”

WE ARE FULLY AWARE THAT THE PROTESTANT COMMUNITY IS RIDDLED WITH MANY CONTRASTING DENOMINATIONAL BELIEFS AND PRACTICES WHICH HAVE CAUSED DISSENTION, DIVISION, AND ISOLATION WITHIN THE BODY OF CHRIST.

DESPITE THIS FACT, THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT WITHIN THE CHURCH, WE CAN STILL FIND THE BOND OF UNITY WHILE STILL LEAVING PLENTY OF ROOM FOR A WIDE RANGE OF VARIETY. UNITY CAN PREVAIL DESPITE OUR DIFFERENCES ALL BECAUSE WE SHARE A GENUINE SALVATION EXPERIENCE IN JESUS CHRIST.

THIS IS WHAT JESUS DESIRES FOR US. THIS IS WHAT JESUS SPECIFICALLY PRAYED FOR US TO EXPERIENCE AND LIVE OUT. IN OUR SCRIPTURE PASSAGE TODAY, JESUS PRAYS, “THAT [WE] MAY BE ONE” JUST AS JESUS WAS ONE WITH THE FATHER. JESUS SAID, “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.”

WE, AS THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, ARE TO BE THE EMBODIMENT OF THE REVELATION AND THE REDEMPTION OF JESUS CHRIST BEFORE THE WORLD. THE WORLD MUST NOT ONLY HEAR THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST, WHO HAS ACHIEVED REDEMPTION FOR ALL, BUT THEY MUST ALSO SEE THAT THE REDEMPTIVE REVELATION OF THE CHRIST HAS THE POWER TO TRANSFORM PEOPLE INTO THE LIKENESS OF GOD AND TO BRING ABOUT THE KIND OF COMMUNITY THE WORLD NEEDS.

THE GREAT DESIRE JESUS HAS FOR US IS FOR US TO BECOME ONE IN SPIRIT AND UNIFIED IN MISSION. HE WANTS US TO BE A UNIFIED AND POWERFUL WITNESS TO THE REALITY OF GOD’S LOVE.

UNITY BETWEEN BELIVERS MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED A CATALYST FOR SOMEBONE BECOMING A CHRISTIAN, BUT OUR UNITY CAN PROVIDE AN ENVIRONMENT FOR THE GOSPEL MESSAGE TO MAKE ITS CLEAREST IMPACT. UNITY IS CRUCIAL AS PROVEN WHEN THE UNSAVED WORLD CRIES “HYPOCRITES” WHEN WE BECOME DISJOINTED AND LOSE OUR UNITY.

IT IS A BEAUTIFUL ANSWER TO THE PRAYER OF JESUS WHEN WE RESPECT EACH OTHER’S DIFFERING PRACTICES AND DON’T LET OUR DENOMINATIONAL POLITY AND WORSHIP STYLES BUILD WALLS THAT WOULD CONQUER OR SEPARATE US.

SATAN IS ALIVE AND WELL, SO WE DON’T NEED TO GIVE HIM ANY PUBLICITY OR GLORY BY WARRING OVER OUR OBVIOIUS DIFFERENCES OR ANY OTHER DIVISIVE SUBJECT MATTER THAT DOES NOTHING BUT DRIVE PEOPLE AWAY.

COMPLETE AND PERFECT UNITY BETWEEN GOD AND HIS CHILDREN WILL RESULT IN WORLDWIDE BELIEF. WHEN WE DEMONSTRATE THIS ONENESS WITH GOD, WE WILL CONVINCE THE WORLD THAT THE FATHER SENT THE SON, AND THAT THE FATHER LOVES US DEEPLY, INTIMATELY, AND ETERNALLY JUST AS HE LOVES HIS SON, JESUS CHRIST.

MUTUAL LOVE BINDS US TOGETHER FOR A COMMON TASK OF SPREADING THE LOVE OF GOD, THE GOOD NEWS OF THE GOSPEL, AND FULFILLING THE GREAT COMMISSION. OUR GOAL IS NOT TO PUSH IN ORDER TO FULFILL OUR AGENDA OR TO FIGHT FOR PRECEDENCE OF DENOMINATIONAL RULES AND CUSTOMS. JESUS WAS CLEAR IN MARK 16:15 TO “GO INTO ALL THE WORLD AND PREACH THE GOOD NEWS TO EVERYONE….”

THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH AND THE QUALITY OF ITS LIFE AND EXPERIENCES LEAD NOT ONLY TO THE GLORY OF GOD, BUT TO A POWERFUL TETIMONY TO THE WORLD. CHRISTIANS DO THE WORK OF CHRIST IN THE WORLD. WE ARE HIS HANDS AND FEET, BRINGING THE KINGDOM TO REALITY WHEREVER WE GO.

WHEN CHRISTIANS ARE IN UNITY WITH EACH OTHER AND ONE WITH CHRIST, THE GROWTH OF THE CHURCH AND THE SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL IS VIRTUALLY INEVITABLE AND UNSTOPPABLE.

SIMPLY PUT: IF THE WORLD IS TO KNOW THAT GOD IS LOVE, THEN WE MUST LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY. IF GOD IS TO BE PROVEN AS KIND AND MERCIFUL, THEN WE, TOO, MUST RENDER MERCY AND KINDNESS. IF WE ARE TO CONVINCE THE SINNER THAT GOD WILL FORGIVE THEM THEN WE MUST BE QUICK TO FORGIVE OFFENSES.

ALL TRUE BELIEVERS HAVE GOD’S GLORY WITHIN, NO MATTER WHAT THEY MAY LOOK LIKE ON THE OUTSIDE OR WHAT DENOMINATIONAL BACKGROUND THEY PROFESS. CHRISTIAN HARMONY IS NOT BASED ON THE EXTERNALS OF THE FLESH, BUT THE INTERNALS AND ETERNALS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE INNER PERSON.

WE MUST LOOK WELL BEYOND THE ELEMENTS OF OUR FIRST BIRTH OF RACE, NATIONALITY, AND ABILITIES TO BUILD OUR FELLOWSHIP ON THE ESSENTIALS OF OUR NEW BIRTH IN CHRIST.

WE ALREADY POSSESS HIS GLORY WITHIN AND ONE DAY WE SHALL BEHOLD HIS GLORY IN HEAVEN. AS WE GROW IN THE LORD, THE GLORY WITHIN BEGINS TO GROW AND TO REVEAL ITSELF IN WHAT WE SAY AND DO AND IN THE WAY WE SAY AND DO IT. AFTER ALL, PEOPLE DO NOT SEE US AND GLORIFY US; THEY SEE THE LORD IN US AND GLORIFY GOD FOR THIS DISCOVERY.

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