“I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one–as you are in me, Father, and I am in you.” John 17:21
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
“…so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Eph 4:12-13
The goal is unity. From the moment He walked with Adam an Eve in the garden, God wanted a connection with man. Jesus provided a way for this to happen. The purpose of the church is to facilitate unity.
As I wrote in my last blog, I am seeing how vital it is to maintain an encounter with Christ. This is something I have been doing more of lately — interacting with him, enjoying fellowship with him, asking him before I do something to give me wisdom. My latest challenge has been stomach issues. Yesterday I thanked God for this weakness, because it forced me to go to Him so often to ask for help and guidance. I couldn’t rely on my normal energy level and clear mind.
The power of connection. I watched a really cool documentary this week called, “I AM.”
It was done by Tom Shadyac, the director of movies like “Ace Ventura” and “Bruce Almighty.” Shadyac got a concussion in a bicycle accident that gave caused him to have lingering depression. When he finally came out of this depression, he was motivated to make a movie about what is wrong with the world, and what we can do to change it.
After interviewing many famous thinkers — including Noam Chomsky, Lynn McTaggart, Desmond Tutu and Howard Zinn — Shadyac concluded that all of creation is connected, and that humans are biologically wired to cooperate and empathize with one another, not be separate and competitive. The movie pointed to how, for instance, birds decide which way to fly in a cooperative way, one flap of a wing at a time. It showed how bacteria in a dish of yogurt is affected by the strong emotion of a nearby person.
Although Darwin touted survival of the fittest, he also said the strongest human instinct is sympathy. Our throats will choke and our eyes fill with tears at moving situations. We are hardwired for a compassionate response to the trouble of others. We’re born to be our brother’s keeper, said those interviewed in the movie.
If God desires unity with us, if this is what was important to Jesus (that we abide in him, that we would one day be one), if the goal for all time has been for us to dwell eternally with our Lord, then our job IS to be our brother’s keeper. We need to bring all into a state of connectedness with our Heavenly Father.
We need to be Christ’s ambassadors, urging people to be reconciled to God. And reconciliation can only happen with repentance. I was studying the Bible for the first time with a campus girl yesterday and we read Acts 17:30, “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.“
We need to be fishers of men. Jake mentioned Sunday how the idea of being a fisher of men originated in Jeremiah. God would search out those who lived in “wickedness and sin. “Behold, I am sending for fishermen, declares the Lord, and they shall catch them.” (Jer 16:16)
There is a wonderful, encouraging message of God’s love, and His desire to be close to us, but it requires the proper response from us., one of utter reverence. This is not a warm fuzzy spiritual philosophy we’re dealing with, but the MOST HOLY ONE. Although I believe the time of miraculous gifts has passed, this passage in I Cor 14:24-25 still illustrates our job to show others who they are before God, “But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!'”
I keep working my way through Ezekiel. Here is one of the most famous passages, which also has to do with reconciling man with God. “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved. . . I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.” (Ez 33:7-9, 11)
The last part of the movie “I AM” dealt with the ways we can help the world to be better. Here are some things that were said.
- Change happens because YOU are concerned.
- By loving our enemies, we heal their damaged souls.
- It makes our heart sing to use our talents to make world better.
- If none of us do anything, nothing will change.
- There is no such thing as a tiny act. One positive action can change the world.
And the last thing someone said is something I love. Desmond Tutu looked at the camera with hope and joy in his eyes, and related, “God says, ‘I have no one but you.'”
It is up to each one of us. It is up to us to “remain in the vine.” It is up to us to interact with our brothers and sisters to foster unity and maturity. It is up to us to make the world a better place by reconciling others to God, and calling them back into the state which they were created, “hardwired,” to be.
It is up to us to help bring about God’s ultimate plan “-to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” (Eph 1:10)