1 Corinthians 12:20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. (NIV)
We live in a divided world and factional times. Partisan politics are hampering countries across the world from being united and strong. Sadly, warring nations still exist on our planet. Religious schisms and fervent fanatics are ruining our confidence in God. It seems as though we are on a precarious precipice, which is disintegrating each day through personal attacks, constant crossfire, and philosophical wars of attrition. Atrophy is setting in all around us, instead of a brave new world of a golden new age. We are at a crossroads – politically, religiously, and socially. Unless we start working together as one dominant species on one single planet, which is whirling through space, we’re going to end up destroying ourselves and the universe won’t even know we existed.
Decades ago, I joined the church because I thought it was the best vehicle to change things across the globe. I still believe in that concept, especially when I see Christ’s Church around the world trying to make lives better. Strong, local congregations are the key to healthy, compassionate communities. Sadly, as Christians, we’ve struggled for so long against one another that we’ve missed precious moments and gracious opportunities to spread Christ’s love all around us.
I think that the Apostle Paul also experienced this kind of divisiveness and disunity among faithful followers, which is why he initially wrote to several Mediterranean church plants. He could see a time when the broken Empire would need a strong, unified church. His emphasis on several parts within one body was meant to show the local congregations that no matter how diverse or different people were – female or male, Greek or Jew, slave or free – they all could work together to form an effective ministry and mission, which would honor Christ’s work and expand God’s Kingdom throughout many regions. That same collective understanding of who we are as Church, as well as maintaining a strong unity, is even more necessary today and essentially crucial for the healing of our broken, divided world.
Questions for personal reflection
How can I contribute to the unity of my local church? How can that unity help my local community?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the Holy One of God in whom our faith should be united. Gather us together in our local congregations, so that we may effectively undertake and fulfill Your mission in our local communities, as well as around the world. In Your Holy Name, we serve and pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to make comments or ask questions about today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. John is always delighted to receive your ideas, suggestions, and messages.
Today’s image is one of John’s Holy Week drawings for 2016 called “Betrayed.” If you want to view a larger version, please click on this link: Betrayed.