Last week, I had the privilege of attending the 126th annual North American Convention of the Church of God. This week spent with friends, family, and colleagues reminded me of an important truth: we need to be connected to each other to fulfill God’s plan for the church.
As Church of God people, we place a high premium on a theological principle called “unity.” This doesn’t mean “hanging out with people who are like us” or even “accepting people who are different from us.” It doesn’t have to do with worship styles, Bible translations, labels on church buildings, or anything of that sort. Instead, unity has a great deal to do with our need to be connected to each other in order to accomplish God’s will for us.
In John 17:20-21, Jesus prayed for those who would believe in him in the future – even including us. He specifically prayed that we might all be one to illustrate the unity between Jesus and God the Father. And the purpose of that unity is so that the world might believe in the entire sweep of salvation history, culminating in the redemption made possible through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Our unity – or lack thereof – has tremendous implications!
Last week’s convention in Anderson reminded me that we at Mt. Haley are not lone rangers; we are not isolated; we do not carry alone the torch of Christianity in general (or of the Church of God in particular). What’s more, I was reminded through a series of meaningful conversations that God calls not just individuals but also groups into his service. For instance, Abram was called to follow God into unknown territory in Genesis 12:1-3 – but his call extended to include his yet-unborn descendants, the Israelites. The boy Samuel was called by God (in 1 Samuel 3) to be a prophet, but he would also anoint the first two kings of Israel, namely, Saul and David. Even the early disciples were called individually to follow Jesus as a group, and these twelve disciples were the kernel through which the early church began to grow in the book of Acts.
I am still processing the concept of God calling groups of people into his service, but I believe there is something useful to be gained by studying this idea. We as a congregation, we as Mt. Haley Church of God have been called together by God – for what purpose? to what end? for whose glory? How can we encourage one another and spur each other on to become more like Christ? What difference will we, as a group, make for the kingdom of God in our local community and around the world? How does God desire to make himself known to the world through our expressions of unity with each other and other believers?
I know at least one thing is true: we need to be connected to each other to fulfill God’s plan for the church. Let’s practice this Christ-centered unity together!