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CRISWELL: We should strive for oneness

Nothing divides like politics.

Oh, you shouldn’t be talking about politics in the church. I know all the arguments. But if what Jesus says intersects with something in our culture or nation, I have to talk about it.

Nothing divides like politics because nothing divides like fear. That’s what is peddled by Republicans and Democrats to get more money. 

And what are you afraid of? Loss. Loss of control, loss of the future of our children, loss of opportunity to vote, loss of guns. 

We are living in a time where we are paralyzed by fear.

But can we disagree politically and love unconditionally?

Jesus saw division coming. He prays a prayer only hours before being arrested and crucified recorded in John 17: 

“Father the hour has come…” Three and a half years on Earth explaining what you are like and what the kingdom of God is like, but the hour has come.

“Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify You.” God made me famous, so people would recognize me and so people would recognize you because we are one.

Verse 11: “I will remain in the world no longer but they are still in the world and I am coming to you.”
And here is Jesus’ request to the father at the very end: “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that… (He already told them you will be arrested, flogged, beaten, in prison, killed, so He’s not praying for their physical protection. It’s something more important) That they be one as we are one.” 

Jesus was most concerned about their unity. 

He knew as long as they were unified with their Heavenly Father, the world would change. Division is horrible. 

He prays for you and me. 

Jesus was convinced, as impossible as it may sound, it was mission critical, imperative. 

It means we should be intentional in keeping unity in our churches because that is what Jesus prayed for. It doesn’t come naturally because we all are raised differently, but Jesus said my church is going to be so diverse and have so many different languages and colors and cultures, is there any way they can remain one?

Then he continues praying, “Father, just as you are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us so that (another purpose) the world may believe that you have sent me.” 

This way, the world will sit up and take notice if this diverse thing — the church — gets this right, works together in unity even though we disagree and agree to disagree, even though we were raised differently, even though we will never agree politically, there’s this beautiful unity. This will get the attention of the world.

Before this prayer Jesus gave a new command: “Love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, as you love one another. If you love one another as I have loved you,” John 13:35.

John 17:22-23 says, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are — I in them and you in me — so that they be brought to complete unity.” Not political unity, but that they would see every person the way he sees them, made in the image of God who he died for. 

“Then the world would know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me,” John 17:23.

Jesus says I am going away, and he’s praying, Father I know everything rides on this unity and love.

Your political candidate will win or lose on how Americans vote. But the church wins or loses — and in some ways our community and nation wins or loses — based on how we love each other and the world.

We must not let anything or anyone divide us. 

I have two suggestions: 

  1. Pray for oneness. Heavenly Father, make us one so we can influence many.
  2. Look for an opportunity to love unconditionally someone whom you disagree with politically.

Jesus said, “I am going to build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it,” Matthew 16:18, and he’s invited everyone to be a part of this movement.

Our oneness is the key to fueling the church in our generation. So disagree politically, love unconditionally and pray for oneness.

Here are two more suggestions: vote and fix your eyes on Jesus — not the election, not the virus, not Thanksgiving and not Christmas. Fix your eyes on Jesus.

Can we be one?

 

Whit Criswell is pastor of Cornerstone Christian Church.