With just over two weeks to my twelfth birthday, excitement was welling up in my young body. I asked my mom if she would organize a birthday party and invite the twenty friends listed on the piece of paper I handed to her. She took to the task quite cheerfully and got everything ready for the big day.
But the party did not turn out as I expected. There were fights, arguments, and demeaning jokes being hurled from person to person. It was on this day that I realized that the varying personalities I had at my party did not fit together. I thought, at the age of 12, that all children my age would enjoy each other’s company, but sadly I was wrong.
Church can be a similar experience to our diverse group of believers. Yes, we are all Seventh-day Adventists, but when we search deeper, some of us cherish different Bible truths above others. For example, someone may enjoy the prophetic gift that has been given to our church, while another might have more of a focus on the healthy lifestyle emphasis of our church. This can take many different shapes in our congregation, so how do we develop unity among believers when each of us has a different outlook?
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed for His disciples. After He prayed for them, He remembered those who would come to Him through the disciples’ message, that is us. Jesus said, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” (John 17:20b-21) His dying wish was that we would have that same closeness to one another as He had with His Father.
What is the purpose of being united? God’s goal is for us to reach the world. If someone would visit our church and see arguing, fighting, or gossip, what would they think about the God we serve? Unity reflects our relationship to God. God’s main mission is that the world might be saved through reception of His grace, but if the message is masked in personal opinions, then a person looking for truth will be turned from it.
So is it possible to have unity? In Acts 2:44, we observe the results of what happens when believers come together to pray, fellowship, and ask for the Holy Spirit. Signs and wonders followed, as well as a building of a community of believers. My birthday party may have been a disaster, but the church has the higher calling to unify the lost souls in the world with Christ. What steps are we making to show the world Jesus?
Even with varying degrees of what we believe the church should highlight, it is my desire that we come together. We join hands with each other to show the world who Jesus is and why they should follow Him.