The one and the many - Hope 103.2

The one and the many

By David ReayWednesday 21 Jan 2015LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read John 17:20-23

20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 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. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

22 “I have given them the glory you gave me,so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. (NLT)

We sometimes hear fervent calls from people to get rid of our Christian denominations and form one big,united church. And texts like this are often the basis of such calls. They are misguided. Our problem is not the existence of various church traditions but how those different traditions relate to one another.

It is not disunity to have Anglicans and Pentecostals. These labels merely reflect personalities and doctrinal emphases. Not all Christians agree on every single issue. This need not be a problem unless we let these differences cause hostility,suspicion,and pride. We dismiss Jesus’ teaching not when we form denominations or meet in different ways in different places. We dismiss it when we make our own denominations the ‘one true church’. When we attack others because they are not like us,thus succumbing to tribalism.

When the church is in trouble,calls are sometimes made to combine into one larger mass so as to be better able to survive. Though as Martyn Lloyd Jones once said,putting all the ecclesiastical corpses in one graveyard will not bring about the resurrection. Bigness or uniformity are not the answer.

Rather we celebrate our differences while recognising what unites us. Jesus is neither Presbyterian or Pentecostal,Catholic or Quaker. He loves his church whatever the label. So must we.

David Reay