praying for a pair

pairs

Okay, let’s play word association.  Batman and ________.  Laurel and _________.  The Lone Ranger and _____.  Okay, you get the idea.  Pretty easy so far.  How about the Green Hornet and _____.  The answer would be ‘Kato’.  Let’s think about some Bible pairs.  The brothers James and _______.  If you said ‘John” you were right.  How about Mary and ________.  That was easy too.  Now I want you to consider a harder one.  As we’ve been considering prayer together, there’s two ways that we can pray that I want you to consider today, that fit hand and glove…but you may not put them together as easily as you did Laurel and Hardy.  Okay, here we go.  Unity and ______.  The answer that I would suggest is ‘truth’.  We can pray for our churches for unity AND truth.

One of the cultural ideas is that we just gotta love (meaning ‘be nice’) and accept everyone’s differences.  That is so lacking the truth…but that idea has slipped in the back door into church world.  We just gotta accept every ‘Christian’ position as equal and just talk about the things that we all agree upon and ignore the stuff we don’t.  If we’re to live on every word that comes from the mouth of God, and we are (Matthew 4:4), we should be in transition of taking a sledgehammer to wrongly held beliefs.  And that said, we will not absolutely agree on everything, and that’s okay, because some things are genuinely less important.  The closer you get to the cross, the more the beliefs matter (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).  Virgin birth?  Very important.  To wear or not wear thumb rings?  Less important.  Oftentimes, though, the things we disagree on are of less importance (Romans 14) but sometimes they take the most prominence. 

The belief held by some is that if everyone comes under one roof on Sunday morning, everyone is going to be in agreement with the Word preached…absolutely not!  Every church has people at different places.  Some have been saved for a lot of years and can clarify every end time position with verses to back each position up and can explain to you which position they hold and why and the shortcomings of the other faulty positions.  And then there are others in the redeemed camp who are new to the faith and all they know is that they are saved and love Jesus.  Then there are those who think they are saved and are not.  They professed faith and it never took, because it wasn’t genuine.  And then there are those who are outside the faith and are investigating.  There are also wolves in the midst of the sheep seeking to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).  And there are many others in between.  What’s a pastor to do?  Keep serving up the truth, piping hot.  

So how can we pray in light of this?…back to the pair of unity and truth.  There’s a lot included in the prayer of Jesus in John 17.  I have heard some focus on one part of this prayer to the neglect of the other.  Many will quote the following:

[11] And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.  (John 17:11 ESV)

In light of this verse some will say lets all join hands with every other church in town and sing ‘Kumbaya’.  But even in this verse you need to consider what it’s saying.  How were Jesus and the Father one?  They were one and are one on absolutely everything.  If you were to comb through Scripture, they were never at odds…ever.  You never see them butting heads.  They were together…always.  That’s the truth that churches are to be moving towards and praying towards…it’s a lifelong process.  Some churches are unified in so little and that’s why they don’t go anywhere instead of around in circles.  Unity needs the truth.  Earlier in Jesus’  prayer it included these words:

[3] And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.  (John 17:3 ESV)

[19] And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.  (John 17:19 ESV)

These two verses give us more clarity.  We are to know God.  We are to know Jesus Christ and get to know Him better through abiding with Him in His Word (John 15:7).  We will be getting to understand Who He is better.  And we are to be sanctified in the truth.  It’s the truth about Jesus that makes us more like Jesus. 

Many churches and Bible institutions don’t challenge people to mature or to believe beyond what they already do.  That is so not in keeping with Scripture.  Sanctification is a lifelong process for individuals and churches who are constantly evaluating what is to be believed in light of Scripture and realigning our beliefs with what the Bible teaches.  We are to be always reforming to the truth.  

So, how can we be praying for our churches?  We can be praying about the inseparable pair of unity and truth.  Do we want our churches to be more together and like minded and more unified?  Absolutely…but it comes only by way of the truth.  So if you’re praying for unity…don’t stop there.  Pray for truth as well, because you can’t have true unity without the truth.  

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