Uniting quotes by the mighty Christian civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr and the infamous musician John Lennon may make for a rather obscure and juxtaposed heading but one I feel works for this piece of writing.
“I have a dream”, four simple words uttered randomly in place of a preprepared speech in 1963 which have gone down in history.
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” Luther’s dream was not merely a unity of like-minded individuals but a unity between opposing forces.
“You may say I’m a dreamer,
But I’m not the only one,
I hope someday you’ll join us,
And the world will be as one.”
“Imagine” named Song of the Century by the National Music Publishers Association and selling 21 million copies speaks of the same “oneness” of which Martin Luther dreams. One coming from a Christian perspective, the other from an atheist perspective, both speak of unity.
Before going further, I would like to add a caveat … this is not an academic thesis, this blog consists only of one girl’s musings on her personal observance of the church and its place within the world. Like Martin and John, I too am a “dreamer” and this dream I share with them, the dream that the world would unite in peace. While I think we have some way to go with this vision generally, I believe that within the Christian community this should not be a dream but a reality.
1 Corinthians 12:12 tells us “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.”
Further, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,” Ephesians 2:19-22.
A few years ago I happened upon an article on the Baha’i religion which accepts all religions as having true and valid origins and I loved this idea. The central idea of this faith is unity, and they believe that people should work together for the common benefit of humanity. This sounded perfect to me. But what made me feel that this faith had something that mine did not. Looking back, it was a lack of understanding on my part. I did not understand the love of God and His desire for unity.
The Bible is a book of love and this shines from the first page where we read of God creating this perfect world for His people. God, Jesus, and the Spirit were in existence before our world was created, and desiring companionship they created mankind. Those of us who are parents know how it feels to seek to love another. When we decide to have a baby, we do not desire a baby for what it can do for us rather, we have a child so that we can love it, and this is exactly what God did with us. Yet His story is quite different. What if before deciding to have a child you knew that this child would rebel against everything you stood for, and that despite this it was destined that you would lay down your life for your child. Would you still go ahead? God did. Jesus knew his destiny lay on the cross and yet God gave us life. This is the love God has for each and every person on earth.
John 3.16:17 tells us “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
It is this “oneness” that I dream for the Christian Church, that God’s love would slice through denomination, colour, race, and culture. That throughout the world, the church of the living God would stand shoulder to shoulder with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.
1 Corinthians 1.10-13 “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarrelling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
The way that I see it, we all in the Christian community have something to offer the other, practically, and theologically and we can use these differences to grow in Christ. For example, some Christians will cross themselves as they enter a church building, others will cover their heads and still, others will kneel before an icon, from this can one not learn of respect, worship, and adoration of the Father? Some Christians rock the walls of their church with the sound of drums and bass, others gaze to the heavens with arms raised in worship, some dance joyfully along the aisles, from this can one not learn how to express their love and gratitude to our maker? Some Christians baptize babies, is this not simply an act of love and care for their child, others baptize only as adults, an informed decision and declaration of faith. Some believe that Jesus becomes communion bread, others that He is around the bread, do these Christians not both take of this supper in faith? Some wear hats in church, some wear head scarves, some no head coverings, some dress in suits, others in jeans, are these same individuals not each presenting themselves to a church building to worship their Father? Are these division enough to break up the family of God? Let us always remember that God loves each and every one of us and God knows the heart of every man. Every person that we share this earth with is known to and special to God so let them be special to us.
Pope Frances has said “our lack of unity is in fact not only openly contrary to the will of Christ but is also a scandal to the world and harms the most holy of causes: the preaching of the Gospel to every creature”.
Can each one of us who dare to call ourselves children of God place our hands on our hearts and say we do the will of God? That we fulfil the commandment to “love our neighbour” given to us by our Lord? Jesus said, “by this people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35. Do people know that we are disciples of Jesus?
Pope Frances further voices “Our differences must not be excuses. Even now we can walk in the Spirit: We can pray, evangelize, and serve together. This is possible, and it is pleasing to God! Walking, praying, and working together: This is the great path that we are called to follow. And this path has a clear aim, that of unity. The opposite path, that of division, leads to conflict and breakup.”
Let us listen to Paul when he declares.
Let us unite so the angels can sing in the words of David, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”, Psalm 133:1.
Love and Blessings