We Christians have heard that popular saying regarding unity in church which goes like, “Where there is unity, God commands a blessing”. This is a paraphrase of Psalm 133 which goes.
1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! 3 It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore. – Psalm 133 ESVPsalm 133:1-3
Now I'm not going to get into theological debate here about whether that expressly refers to God commanding a blessing at the mountains of Zion or when brothers dwell in unity.
We all know unity is a good thing and we can all agree in unity that Jesus is King and Lord of the Harvest.
But the topic of this post today is all about is how the world sees unity in church and whether it attracts them to Jesus? This is a far more important question for us to ask and I thought this pop culture reference was revealing.
The Best Religious Joke
There is this joke by Emo Philips which apparently was voted “The best religious joke ever” according to the Guardian that goes like this.
Warning: It's not funny for us who are true disciples of Jesus.
Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don't do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”
He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me, too! What franchise?” He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”
He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too!”
Northern Conservative†Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.Emo Philips
I'm not amused but I am convicted.
Not because of wanting to push someone off a bridge for differing theology but rather for how we often focus on what divides us rather than unites us as Christians.
It's simply Jesus.
Fellow Christians this is so often what the world sees of our Christianity. A bunch of religious people bashing bibles over heads and in the case of the Crusaders even willing to kill.
We have battled Jihad ever since as a consequence. This was not God's plan but the enemies. As Jesus said to Peter, “Who ever lives by the sword will die by it” Matthew 26:52
Side-note: We also have the Renaissance as a consequence of the Crusades.
In the Bob Jones prophetic vision of a billion soul harvest when he went up to Heaven, Jesus asked him one question, “Did you learn to love?”
Jesus had these words to say:
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’Matthew 7:21-23
It's always a striking portion of scripture but the scarlet thread is clear, it's all about love. Loving God first but of equal importance, loving your neighbor as yourself.
So the question remains. Have you learnt to love?
If this Baptist joke which is apparently voted the “best joke on God” is anything to go by, we clearly haven't represented our loving Jesus well.
It started off amazing with the Early Church who were filled with the spirit of God. And therein lies the key, the more we are filled with Him the more we can give to others and this is the only way people will be drawn to Jesus.
I recently wrote a prayer which I feel is timely again.
Unity in Church Prayer
Father God I praise you and honor you.
You are high and lifted up and yet you became one of us to show me the way.
Thank you Jesus for your selfless love.
Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins and giving me a new life in you. A life of unimaginable power, blessing and favor as I abide in you.
The power of Your Love.
I commit myself afresh to you today and welcome you Holy Spirit into this day.
I pray that Your mind and purposes become my mind and purposes so that everyone I meet will be touched by You.
Lord soften my heart to be attentive to others, to love others and in so doing introduce them to you.
Lord Jesus I pray that you rid my life of any spirit of religion trying to block Your love operating in me today.
And I declare that I am more than a conqueror through you Jesus.
I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ (the high and lifted king and son of God) and by your Holy Spirit power.
If you enjoyed this post “Best Religious Joke” you may also like, “15 Things God Won't Ask You.”