Updated: Feb 11, 2022
John 17:20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me
Twenty-five years ago, I gave my life to the Lord and within a few short months, I had become worship leader in my first church. I became worship leader in my second and third churches. Today, I continue in bringing the worship as a pastor and as an itinerate minister not only for our own events and gatherings but for other groups too.
As a new believer, the Lord laid John 17, the prayer for unity upon my heart, ‘that all those who believe in Yeshua will be one as He and the father are one’ To see the unification of His people, to gather and feed them is the mandate He has given me. It is wonderful to be called to teach or explain to others what I have come to learn, especially to those who are being called into the kingdom at this time.
I was still a baby believer when the Lord gave me a dream. In it He showed me a building. It was made from glass and was five levels high. I saw the finished building and the blueprint. The building from above was in the shape of a fish. The head, all five stories, was separated for 24hr worship; the body was where people came from all over the world to study in various classes; the tail was the entry point where people entered into the various levels. As I looked at the building I could see the people moving within it.
That image remains as clear today as when I first dreamed it. I pray that it will become a reality.
As I walk on this Sunday morning, through the country lane that leads into the nearby village, the morning is crisp and cold and the sun shines low, welding bright, across the farmer’s field. I’m about to turn the corner that will lead me on the return journey of my circular walk and which will take me past the village church.
At 9am the bells ring for the 9:30 service. I start to pray for the villagers; that the Lord will revive and waken them to His Spirit. I pray that the Holy Spirit will come and somehow fan the flame of a distant move among the Christians in the village hundreds of years ago.
I pray also for a chance meeting with the vicar in the hope that a long overdue conversation might occur. I wait to see him, believing that if our paths meet, then it is of the Lord. So far, nothing has transpired. I would love to find out what his personal vision is for the locals in his flock.
As I approach the church, a few cars are gathered in the nearby street. I assume other parishioners have walked, though I don’t see the rush yet. St Paul’s is a lovely church, built in the mid 1800s. As in most churches and gatherings throughout the Covid pandemic, social distancing, mask wearing and limited activity has been restrictive in the life and activity of the church globally. What has been most peculiar to me is the registration of those wishing to attend the service beforehand. What have we come to?
2000 years on from the birth of the church, we still see its practices restricted. Some might say that we in the West have always had this unrestricted freedom to worship, but freedom of worship especially among the Abrahamic faiths has always met with some resistance if not least from each other. In Eastern countries the situation is far more extreme.
As I continue past the houses through the affluent streets of the village, I can’t help thinking about the number of denominations we have among the community of faith. It is considered that the number will soon be hitting the 50,000 mark within the next few years. However, it may mean, nonetheless, that these groups will be smaller and the numbers among them will be less too.
A little bit up the road from St Paul’s lies the Methodist Church. I have never seen anyone enter this building. That may be mainly due to the fact that I’m simply not anywhere near it when a service may be starting. So I think of the possibility of the two churches meeting together; do they?
In other areas of the city, there are different churches so close together that it’s hard not to wonder why they just don’t become one big one. The reason of course is that they think and worship differently, and even those who agree in doctrine often remain alone because of pastoral ownership. I think you know what I mean. A stranger might think, ‘It’s a good thing surely, that there are so many churches around — at least the word is spreading.’ But how many consider that what is happening is divisive?
Congregations may consider a churches together or church premises sharing scheme as a progressive move and that it highlights the diverse nature of its make up. Attendees and subscribers to the faith, still however, enter into the multi-faith arena wearing their identity labels.
The early Church, at the time of Christ and a little later, had no denomination. We read that miracles abounded and the presence of the Holy Spirit was tangible. The early believers had no New Testament then. So what did they read and base their scriptural life upon?
Before I continue, here is a question. As a new believer today, what would you use as your scriptural source if you didn’t have a New Testament?
The early believers of Christ Yeshua, read, if they could, or predominantly listened to the Torah. They met in the synagogues to hear the preaching and teaching of the Apostles.
The Gospel message or Good News which Yeshua taught was the reiteration of the scriptures of the prophets along with the establishment of the apostolic line. These two groups would speak in unison and become the foundation of the scriptural message of redemption for Israel.
The message of Christ was never about the Christian Church or the numeric growth of it through some charismatic style of evangelism. It was about the redemption and regathering of a remnant group which had been scattered into the nations. This group would ultimately restore the broken House of Jacob.
This message in essence is relayed in the mystery of the kingdom.
1 Peter 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
Yeshua spoke in Matthew 13:11 that not all will be able to understand the message. However, if we want to know more, then we are also admonished to Ask, Seek and Knock. Ignorance and delusion in part has been given to an arrogant and corrupt generation. Today the predominance is to accept what comes from behind the pulpit without testing or discerning the word — laying the scriptures alongside each other, building precept upon precept in order to attain the truth.
If we compare the early gathering of Yeshua’s disciples to a gathering of today’s house of faith, we see how far we have come away from the idea of a unified and cohesive group. Yeshua brought by His side the twelve. It is considered though not specifically mentioned that the lineage of the twelve brought together the whole house of Jacob, the twelve tribes. He tells them that they will sit on thrones, have authority and judge the twelve tribes in the world to come. Luke 22:29-30.
My thoughts roamed, and I began to think of the millions of dollars and pounds spent on lifestyle gurus within both the secular and religious world. I began thinking of their own peculiar methods and styles that they each propagate and how so many are duped into the charisma of their spells. I consider a little more saddening, how many of these merchants within the faith make money from the ignorant. It is as if by some chance they have discovered their own remedy for a poor and suffering world. These people are not saviours and they sell a lifestyle message that Yeshua died for and gave us for FREE!
Yeshua died so that we can live a life worthy of our calling and as citizens within His Kingdom. He didn’t die to make us rich men in monetary terms. He told the rich man to sell all that he had and follow Him, remember.
People look to the gimmicks, tapes, courses and formulas because they have invested into them. However, with a little study and commitment we can find that true prosperity and the abundant life can be attained by following the way Christ taught. The problem really, is that many want this abundant life now and see the window closing on its attainment.
Christ’s message for unification comes to those who follow the path He has set. It is for a people who are called by His name. They see His way as the only way and not part of thousands of others. Our multi-faith programs will not bring unity, but why is this? Because when we meet in this multi-faith arena together, we all carry our doctrine in our satchels and traditions in our hearts. This is not the arena or temple of YHVH. He shares no table with demons.
What identifies us as His is the heart that is for Him and the lips that praise Him; it is the person dipped in the blood of Christ, the sheep that bears no other mark but the mark of the great shepherd.
I pray, and this is my hope and mission, that we will one day throw away our denominational markers, gather as the true community of Christ, and reiterate the creed with one voice.
'There is One God, One Father, One Spirit, One Christ, One Saviour, One Lord, One King, One Name, One Baptism, One House, One Family.'
Scripture tells us that we will, all of us, be gathered again in unity as the whole house of Jacob. We can rest assured, with patient apprehension, that because Messiah Yeshua prayed for our unity, it will happen. He has the final and last word.
In the meantime, let us strive to maintain the bond of peace and remove from us the spirit of pride.