CALL TO THE CHURCH
This is it—the real deal—a no-brainer. Listen! If I thought that this idea was from me, I would have given up a long time ago. This idea gives an easy way (one found in the Bible) of achieving a core Bible teaching THAT PROMISES THE WORLD but has eluded the Church since 450 A.D. It is not difficult to grasp or support. You may not have great faith in people, but can you put a little faith in God? The Bible promotes Christian oneness (unity) and its impact on evangelism. The Church’s history has established disunity. Changing our views on unity will require boldness and creativity. Many diverse and respected Christian leaders support greater unity. Unity deserves your support. Here is a plan.
John 11: 50-52 says Christ died for our unity. I hope that strikes you as strange as it did me when I first understood those verses.
Also consider “The Great Request”. John 17:20-23 says Jesus asked the Father that all his followers, from then on, would be one just as Jesus was one with the Father. Twice Jesus prayed for unity so “that the world may believe”. Jesus would not have asked for this if it were not possible, and it would not be in scripture if it did not have an application.
The Bible has much to say about Christian unity. Here are some of the best passages on unity: John 13:34-35, 1 Cor 1:10-13, 1 Cor 3:2-4, Eph 4:1-6, Phil 1:27-28, 1 Pet 3:8, and Proverbs 6:16-19. Philippians 2:1-8 describes what unity would look like. Unity and love go hand-in-hand. If we say that we believe the Bible, then after salvation, Church unity is a core belief. Church leaders generally only give a nod towards church unity, but Biblical ideas of unity should be more embraced.
Church leaders often give support for The Great Commission. The Great Request is like The Great Commission. In just a few verses, they instruct us on how to best win others to the Gospel. The reluctance to act on The Great Request is like the initial Protestant response to The Great Commission.
How did the Church become so divided? After the first 300 years, Constantine, the Roman emperor, became a Christian and sought to unify the empire under Christianity. Just as Israel took a King in place of God, the Church turned to the emperors rather than to God to sort out their doctrinal disputes. The emperors took a side and often persecuted the opposing side. Thus the Coptic and Nestorian churches separated. When all else failed, there was always excommunication. The Catholic and the Orthodox excommunicated each other in 1054. 500 years later, Rome and Luther excommunicated each other. And after the threat of excommunication, Henry VIII of England established his own church.
Nevertheless, among the church fathers and with many key leaders through the ages, unity of the Church was of critical importance. After hundreds of years of division over important issues, although unity impacts every area of Christian ministry, ignoring the broader application of the scripture towards unity has become very convenient. In regards to unity, many people have made the rules of man greater than the command of God.
Why should you support greater Church unity? Spiritual unity benefits all Christian ministries—winning people for Christ, the influence of the Church on government, protection of the persecuted, ministering to the poor, and putting oil in the lamps of the churches.
If we are bold, creative, and honest, we can impact the Church and the way people see Christian unity. Many influential Christians support a greater spiritual unity–for example, Ec. Patr. Bartholomew of Constantinople (Orthodox), Francis Chan, Tony Evans, Pope Francis, Nick Hall, Joel Hunter, Tim Keller, Josh McDowell, Joyce Meyer, Al Mohler, Joel Osteen, Luis Palau, John Piper, Dave Ramsey, Sammy Rodriguez, Thomas Schirrmacher, Brian Stiller, Pope Tawadros II (Coptic), and Geoff Tunnicliffe.
However, very few are working to bring unity to the Church. I am working on three levels:
• THE MAIN GOAL is an international gathering of Nicene Creed-oriented church leaders.
• Establishing a gathering of local church leaders supporting each other in unity.
• Establishing a prayer group dedicated to seeking God about unity.
Regarding the international gathering, I am proposing that Christian leaders come together to seek God for Christian unity. The Church cried for God’s help in Acts 4:24-31. Also in 2 Chron 20, Judah gathered together to earnestly seek an answer from God. Such prayer glorified God, and He answered with power. Before Christ returns, shouldn’t we at least try? James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” And unified prayer will help enable a bond of love without compromising anyone’s church traditions.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8-9) We need to go to God and say, “We can’t do it, but God, You can. Our way of uniting Christians is not sufficient. Only You, Lord, know what we need and how to make unity work. What should we do?”
If a few prominent church leaders would support such a gathering, other leaders would join. A committee could be organized; leaders invited; and a time, place and agenda chosen. Then the support building, prayer, fasting, and publicizing would start. Even without prominent leaders’ help, an annual “pilgrimage” of prayer could be started with the aim of becoming a major event.
Some will say it sounds good, but it is too ideal. So then, are our beliefs also too ideal? The infinite God who made the universe loves us enough to die so that we can live forever. And God hears our prayers and lives inside us. Yet we believe these. Something else almost too good to be true—Christian oneness is possible because Jesus asked the Father for this. Something else—God will respond again as He did in the past. Something else—more people than we would ever think possible will believe in Christ when we imitate Christ’s great request.
Many Christian songs, books, and sermons encourage us to seek great things from God, be patient, wait, and He will respond. Poh Fang Chia, an author for Our Daily Bread, wrote, “Our heavenly Father is delighted when His children approach Him with a common request. . . . ‘He will continue to deliver us as you help us by your prayers’ (2 Cor 1:10-11). God has chosen to use our prayers—especially our prayers together—to accomplish His Work in the world. No wonder the verse continues: ‘Then many will give thanks . . . [for the] answer to the prayers of many.’ . . . Our loving Father is waiting for us to come to Him so He can work through us in ways that reach far beyond anything we imagine.”
Please give me your opinion. Make a suggestion. Also consider helping. If Christians like you join in, helping in little ways, we will see success. Here are some options:
• Let me add your name to a list of supporters • Write a support note • Pray for me
• Discuss this ministry • Ask your pastor about this letter • Get involved--offer to help.