Reformation Gone Wrong -ONE-Prayer #2
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. John 17:23 (The Message)
LifeChurch.tv one of the most plugged in churches in USAmerica, has challenged the Church by asking it leaders an important question. What if you had only ONE-prayer to pray on behalf of the Church--ONE-prayer for the Body-of-Christ what would it be? Honestly, the Church could use allot of prayer, after all the church is made up of fallible, sinful, self-serving people (of which I one...and before you get too uppity...you probably are as well). The point is that we (the Church) need help. If I had ONE-prayer to pray for the Church--what would it be? More people? More purity? More power? More provision? Are there any more "P" words that we can pray for the Church?
Ok, this is an important question so no more alliteration. I don't want to get this wrong...I can't blow this one. There's no do-over so let me think.
• if I were a charismatic I’d pray for more of the Spirit’s fullness in the Body-of-Christ...
• if I were a part of the reformed movement I might pray for more and more grace...
• if I were Roman Catholic I might pray for a visit from a one of the great saints of the Church...
• as a good Nazarene I'd ask that the Church would experience and testify to the crisis and process of being set a part for God's service--fully surrender to His love.
I could go on with more movement prayers because after all there are 9,000 different denominations in just the protestant tradition alone. Add in the Catholic church of the east and west and all the rest of the sects, denominations and groups and we would have to pray 33,000 different prayers. The church movement list is amazing there’s the: Roman Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Congregational, Anabaptist, Methodist, Holiness, Baptist, Brethren, Apostolic, Pentecostal and the Charismatic church.
These are just the major movements. Each movement could have as many as 1,000 different synods, or sections. I get overwhelmed just thinking about the thousands of prayers that are going up for the Church that turns on its head the motto of the United States--E Pluribus Unum--"Out of Many, One.” The Church's motto could be summed up as: "Out of ONE, Many"--E Unum Pluribus, which sounds good except that the MANY is all about church splits.
We live in the age of reformation gone wrong. Sure the Church needed to reform and Luther's 95 theses (that's a lot of theses). As the Church became the chosen religion of the day it began to take on extra-biblical baggage. Things like: works-righteous, the doctrine of purgatory (the condition, process, or place of purification or temporary punishment in which the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for heaven.) the belief in indulgences and the selling of church positions made for a corrupting influence in the Church. We needed Luther's five Sola's:
• Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone--the standard)
• Sola Fide (by faith alone--justification)
• Sola Gratia (by grace alone--salvation)
• Solus Christus (Christ alone--His work saves us)
• Soli Deo Gloria (glory to God alone)
What we didn't need, and where the Reformation went wrong was the split. I understand that the Protestant movement came about because the Church in Rome would not reform. Instead it decided to make the Luther's of the world, an offer they couldn't refuse--recant or die (now that's an offer). So reform became a protest movement that eventually ended in a Church split and the rest is history. The Church has been splitting ad nauseam ever since. Sure the first split was hard, it always is but after a while it just got a whole lot easier to split instead of mend our doctrinal differences and disagreements. And so, today, 500-years later, the Church is more about pluribus then unum.
When I was growing up in the 70's (btw I was just a kid in the 70’s) we used the term split. We would say thing like, “hey man I've got to split...” which meant something close to today’s phrase--I'm out of here. Split seems to be a term of endearment for the Church. It’s almost like we’re proud of our many denominations.
• if you don't like the new music at church just split...
• the Bible being used is not the KJV go ahead split...
• the sermons are getting too close to home split...
• the church becomes too liberal or conservative SPLIT...
• don't like the new pastor split.
• don’t like small groups SPLIT
• they change the pew for chairs definitely SPLIT
Some say, there's nothing wrong with splitting. Better to split then just leave the faith altogether they say. I respectfully disagree. Splitting is easy, staying while reforming is hard. Splitting would not seem so bad if Jesus hadn't said that one of the Church's identifying marks is unity. As Jesus got ready to go back to heaven he said that people would know who we are--His Body not by our many numbers, our piety, or even our passion but by our ONEness--our unity.
I don't think Martin Luther had a Church-split thesis in his 95 theses and neither does God.
So as God the Son was heading back to heaven he said be ONE.
So, here finally, is my ONE-prayer for the Church of Jesus Christ--the Body:I PRAY THAT WE BE ONE!
Paul the Apostle of Jesus got it right when he wrote to the Ephesians-- “You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness" Eph 4:4-6 (the Message)
So what does this Oneness look like and how do we get there? It starts with the individual and works it way out into the Body-of-Christ as a whole. During our House of Prayer emphasis a year ago I prayed One prayer and it was this that God would give me unity with Him, my family (Rose Jasmine and Jae and in our church. Unity in the Church begins with us and then makes it’s way into our homes, our church, and the churches around us and as this happen the Church of Jesus Christ become One.
A Definition: Unity is not an artificial spirit of friendliness or solidarity. Nor is unity some common goal or a group of goals.
Unity is a product of the Cross: It is the product of the cross and God's work in Christ. Unity it is not something that we are to aim at for the sake of unity.
Unity is “of the Spirit": Spirit is capitalized. It refers to the unity provided by the Holy Spirit. It is a unity that we can’t produce or conjure up. Neither Jesus nor Paul ever tells us to work real hard at or to do bootstrap UNITY. WHY?
Unity is Organic: Unity is living and natural it’s not mechanical. It is not a coalition or merger of groups, peoples, or organizations.
Christian unity, the unity of the Spirit, is a unity, which starts within and individual and works outward through organic life. Paul in his letters to the early church used the example of the human body.
The human body has many parts: toes, fingers, hands, feet, legs, eyes, ears, etc. It’s not an assembly line collection of parts like a car. It begins as a one-cell organism that begins to develop, grow into a many-celled human being In the same way the unity or Oneness that we are called to as the Church is organic in character. The Church isn’t a collection of parts. The Church is a God created a spiritual body.
Unity is Diversity: There is diversity in unity, not uniformity. The parts do not look alike, they do not function alike, yet, they are all important, needed, and all work toward the same end, the purposes for which each was designed according to God the creator.
The God who is the THREE-IN-One call us to be in UNITY—to be One in spirit. Listen to what Paul say to the church in Ephesus he could be speaking to Calvary, to the ten churches on Little River Turnpike and the CHURCH around the globe.
“You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness" Ephesians 4:3-4 (the Message)
I pray that by the Spirit of God we Calvary Church and the Church of Jesus Christ becomes ONE. How's that for ONE-prayer? -james hey ii