As I am outlining some of the primary values of our community of faith, I should hasten to speak about how we view believers, churches and ministries beyond us and our relationship to them. This addresses a vitally important element of our ethos. We believe that the Body of Christ across our city and the nations is essentially one. We absolutely love and serve true Jesus people everywhere we find them! Indeed, we seek to love all people...even our "enemies". Though there are not insignificant differences between how authentic Jesus-lovers hold, express and live out our common faith, along with our differences regarding "non-essential" doctrines and practices, we promote a sense of loving and respecting believers, groups and movements that are not associated with our community. We encourage those associated with us to reach out, partner with, serve and support other groups of Jesus followers. We do not draw "hard lines" or "high walls" between the organizations in our hearts or minds. I think we should create a "permeable membrane" around our organizations that our respective members can pass through as they are personally led by the Lord. We have very good friends and spiritual leaders in Christ across our city and nation whom we honor and bless. We are confident that our specific approach to being and building a community in Christ is not going to be a good fit for every believer. There are many excellent churches and ministries in our city that are able to meet genuine needs that we cannot meet...especially in these early phases of our journey together. We simply appeal for the liberty to create the kind of culture around our group that we think will accelerate and maximize the spiritual growth and fruitfulness of the people whom God has joined to us.
As we pray for the unity of the Body of Christ and often grieve over our painful divisions, I often think of this part of the "high-priestly" prayer of Jesus in John 17:20-23:
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
There are many things to be said about this part of Jesus' prayer, but several points stand out to me. 1) Jesus is actually praying for you and me, for we are among those who have believed "through their word" - the words of His first apostles. 2) He prays for us to experience such a degree of union with Him and His Father that "the world may believe" in the reality of Jesus. This is a prayer God intends to answer in this age rather than a future age of some kind. The people in the world around us will receive their best opportunity to believe when we enter, enjoy and manifest a true and powerful union with the Trinity and usher the presence and wisdom of the living Christ into our given sphere of influence. 3) It is when we experience and walk in the glory of God that Christ shares with us, that we are drawn into greater union with God that then leads to greater unity with our fellow believers. Glory leads to Union and Union leads to Unity.
A VOICE OF HOPE
Michael Sullivant's Blog
I am a child of God, husband, father, grandfather, spiritual father, author, speaker and hope coach.