Deep within me, there seems to be some built-in desire to see a band of brothers and sisters conquer a task, mission, or goal. An intrinsic desire to be on mission with a select few is something I think about—a lot. But at the same time I think of what stands in the way. What barriers might prevent the body of Christ from advancing toward the mission that lies before us?
In our excitement to live on mission, I’m becoming increasingly convinced it all starts with examining our “oneness.” In Philippians, Paul writes:
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”
This idea of oneness is essential if God’s mission to be realized through us.
But there’s more.
What do people see of God through me, through my family, through my church community? As a Christ follower, am I a barrier or a catalyst for someone witnessing (and experiencing) the mission of God?
The world uses an “authenticometer” to measure our authenticity. (Okay, it’s a word I made up.) It there were such an instrument, it would allow people to tell if a person or a group is authentic or legit. As theologian Francis Schaeffer said, “Our relationship with each other is the criterion the world uses to judge whether our message is truthful—Christian community is the final apologetic.”
It’s important to know that when Paul wrote to the community in Philippi, they were quite an eclectic group. Led by women (not the norm in that ancient culture) they were anything but a homogenous group. Committing to oneness given the diversity within this first century community was difficult. Yet this small band of believers in Philippi seemed to grasp what was at stake. They believed Paul and embraced the words of Jesus that said:
“The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are—I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me and loved them in the same way you’ve loved me.”
Division = confusion. It’s something we can’t deny. We also know confusion leads to spiritual inactivity. And when we are divided and not moving and living in unity as the body of Christ, the world looks on—in confusion.
Have you encountered division? How did you work through it?