A man was stranded on a deserted island for several years. Finally a ship came and rescued him. When they came on to the island they noticed three huts. When they inquired of the man about the three huts he said, “Well, the first hut is where I live. The second hut is where I go to church. The third hut is where I used to go to church.”
That’s a funny joke! But there’s nothing funny about the disunity that exists in the body of Christ. We recently visited our daughter Leah and the grandchildren in Shreveport, Louisiana. Everywhere we went we saw a Baptist church and many of them were huge. As we drove along one main road, I kid you not, there were two Baptist churches right beside each other! I said to Sue, “I wonder what led to that happening?” I mean, at least you’d think they could go across the street with their disagreements! It’s amazing how many ways we can find to disrupt the unity we have in Christ.
Jesus prayed for all believers in John 17. He prayed to the Father, “that they all be one, just as You and I are one” (John 17:20 NLT). I remember that for years I would read this and apply it to our local church only. But that’s not what Jesus said. He prayed that all believers would be one in the same way that He and the Father are one. I think I am theologically safe when I say I don’t think one member of the Trinity is trash talking another or taking their own perspective to another side of the universe and establishing their own kingdom! Perfect unity and oneness exists among the three persons of the Godhead. For us fallible human saints of God our unity is a redemptive unity but still a very real unity that Jesus prayed would be like His unity with the Father. That’s pretty tight!
So what’s wrong? Why can’t we get along? Well the answer to that is multifaceted. But here’s one simple observation. During times of revival denominational walls always come down. When the Holy Spirit is in control the body comes together. When God brings revival He sends forth His Spirit in such power that our carnal selfishness and human excuses are washed away and a pure love and passion for Christ rises, a love that flows out to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Therefore, when we are not under The Spirit’s controlling influence we say and do things that hurt and we hold to ideasand beliefs that are divisive.
It’s easy to say, “I want to be under the control of the Spirit,” but the proof is in the living. And the Holy Spirit is always going to lead us into the love of God and His love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6). In Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17 where He prayed for our unity He also prayed, “Sanctify them by Your truth, Your word is truth” (John 17:17). We must be lovers of truth and people of truth. When there is conflict we must first and foremost be people of truth who love the truth and follow the truth even as Jesus is truth. To be Spirit-controlled is to be a seeker of truth and we take hope in Jesus’ promise that, “He (the Holy Spirit) will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13.
Not everyone wants to follow the truth. Not everyone will embrace the truth that leads to reconciliation. That’s why Paul wisely said, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). May God help us to walk in love and be lovers of truth for only in the light of truth can we find our way to the life of unity Jesus prayed for. Lord God, sanctify us by Your truth and teach us to walk in it and enjoy your immense love for us that we might love one another.