The big idea of Part 2 “One + One = One” of the Message Series, Community is that a God-community is characterized by oneness; but achieving unity does not mean uniformity! Uniformity is essentially everyone and everything the same- blah, blah, blah. Obviously, God made his community diverse by design, so how to we obtain unity without losing our uniqueness?
We need to look and listen to what Jesus is praying in John 17:20-23, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they all may be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, that they may be one even as we are one. I in them and you in me, that they may be perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me…” You get the impression that Jesus is praying and saying that “oneness” is a really important deal for followers of Jesus and the church. But seriously?? You can’t get three people in a room to agree on anything, let alone have unity! On the flip side of that, we can be agreeable, but still not be united; just consider politics! So, how do we become the answer to Jesus’ prayer?
Basically, we need to understand that oneness is a mark of God (think of the Trinity), it requires our every effort, and it is ultimately our credibility! The unique oneness of the Father-Son-Spirit relationship is what Jesus wants for the rest of us- all those who will believe on the word! Oneness is God’s dream for the human race, but it takes our full-blown commitment and dedication; which, when this happens, is what makes the church so appealing to the culture- see Acts 2:42-47; 4:32. And yet we fight and squabble like little kids; especially in the church.
Think of all the “divisions” that exist: denominational differences, doctrinal differences, traditional differences, “Christian” distinctive differences (that’s a good one), differences on preferred worship, teaching, service styles. I’m not exactly sure, but I don’t think this is what Jesus was praying for! Paul says in 1 Cor. 1:10, I appeal to you… by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose… In Eph. 4:3 he says, Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit…” Oneness, unity, harmony is what marks us as part of the true God-community. Honestly, when a singing group is out of harmony it’s the worst sound on the planet; it’s awful. No wonder the world around us doesn’t take the time to “listen” to the church- we’re so out of harmony it simply sounds awful! The “key” is to make every effort to be united and have God-ordained harmony.