Unity and Mission
I remember having discussions back in my college days about the purpose of the church. Most agreed that near the very top of the list of purposes was the task of missions: spreading the good news of Jesus the Christ. And they are right. Did not Jesus tell his church "Go" ...
But do we realize that mission is dependent upon a prior commitment on the part of disciples? Do we know that world evangelism is simply impossible without something undergirding mission? As I read the New Testament there is.
What is this prior commitment that makes missions possible? It is unity! Unity of heart. Unity of mind. Unity of purpose. Unity in the cross of Christ. You see for some reason divided Christians; Christians that cannot get along, Christians who argue over trivia destroy the very essence of the message Jesus told us to proclaim.
The greatest threat to world mission is not a lack of money but a lack of unity among the disciples of Christ. The greatest hinderance to bringing non-believers to saving faith is not evolution but the division of the church. Without unity the message of the cross is seriously compromised - indeed Christians do the Evil One's work for him by remaining in a divided state.
You see the power of the message is seen in diverse people caring and loving for one another. When the world sees women and men; white folks and black folks, rich people and poor people all together ... caring for each other, sharing together, the world will take notice.
But division among Christians voids the message! Why? Because the message at its core is one of reconciliation. Those claiming to believe that message while remaining at cross purposes become exhibits of the percieved failure of the message of peace. It become a "reason" for disbelief.
The congregation in which I serve cannot fix other churches but we can make sure that the message is not subverted here. Unity provides the foundation to world mission. Unity is what makes the message believable.
"My prayer is ... that all of them may be one, Father ... so that the world may believe you have sent me" (Jesus in John 17. 20-21).