Courtesy: Daniel Bramlett
I have a burning in my soul that I must express. I’ve spoken about it just about every chance I’ve gotten lately. It regards one of the areas in our community that God is moving in a big way. I’ll call it the bonding of the brethren. All across our area I see activity amongst the Churches that I just didn’t see a few years ago. Sure, we had events and activities together, but this is different. Church leaders are meeting and praying together…often! Churches are partnering for continuous ministry like The Call, Banner Hope Center, and We Are Free.
This last Sunday evening we had a joint worship service that grew out of a shared Men’s Retreat between First Baptist and Lonoke. I am absolutely head over heels about all of this! You might ask “Why?” Let me offer just two reasons.
One, Jesus prayed for unity between us. He talked about His desire for us to be One as He and the Father are One. That’s enough to motivate us right there! There is no lack of discussion between the Godhead about our natural inclination to separate and their ultimate desire for us to live together in unity. We see their Oneness again and again in Scripture. From their collective Presence hovering over the waters in Genesis to their complimentary treatment of each other at Jesus’ baptism, Oneness is one of THE DEFINING CHARACTERISTICS of the Trinity.
What’s more, as Paul describes the Church, again and again he uses this very same language. He calls us the Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ (as if we are all being joined into the community of God). Paul talks about marriage as an image or indicator of what God has done and is doing for us and through us. Then he says that all this talk about oneness in marriage is directly applicable to the Church. In essence, God is for our togetherness in the Gospel and has opened up every way possible for us to come in. The more we lock arms for the sake of the Kingdom, the clearer the picture becomes to the world without Jesus what it means to be sons and daughters of the King.
Two, in his letter to the Ephesians Paul writes about a dividing wall of hostility. He says it appeared between would be brothers in the Kingdom and that Jesus put a wrecking ball to it. Just listen to these words “Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility…through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father!” (2:13-14,18) You may say, “Daniel, I have no hostility in me towards any other Churches in our area” and I’m sure you are telling the absolute truth.
But when the world looks at our separateness what they see is hostility. I get asked this question all of the time: “Why can’t you Churches get along? Why are there so many different Churches? What keeps you apart?” Granted our practice is as varied as our personalities. But practice is NOT ENOUGH to keep us apart all of the time! We have many like-minded Churches that can and should link arms and hearts for the furtherance of the Gospel. Oneness between Christians must be evident to every resident of Southwest Arkansas!
I think I’ve expressed my passion and my reasons for it. Now let me give one BIG example of where this can take place. Our communities are melting pots of different cultures. We see the big three: Hispanic, African American and White. We also see variances between these three and even other nations in the mix. This is not something we lament. I praise God for this! He is bringing the world to us! We know we will all be together at the Throne of God. We know every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus is Lord one day. Why not make that day this day? What is keeping us from worshiping and serving Jesus together? There is only one answer to that: we are the only obstacle present.
The best testimony we can offer a world without Christ is a Church gathered for the worship of Jesus. The most effective strategy we can dream up to reach our community for Christ is a Church moving forward together for the Gospel.
Do you want to see Heaven on earth? I challenge you to set aside any thought or tradition that would keep you from worshiping alongside brothers of a different color and join us as we worship Christ together on April 28th at 6:00 pm in the Hope Coliseum. Come to Soup & Sermon at the Catholic Church at noon on the Wednesdays leading up to Easter. We can’t do this on our own. We must confess that Jesus has already done it. It’s just time for us to get on board.