Pulpit: Let's show evidence of our unity in Christ
All who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior are eternally bound together as children of one Heavenly Father. "For both He [Jesus] who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren…" (Hebrews 2:11)
Although we may differ about many concepts in the Bible, we are united by our acceptance of the foundation of Christianity as recorded in the God's word. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For, God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:16-18) "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
Becoming a Christian is just the beginning, there's much more to learn. The early Christians developed creeds, which summarize the basics for life in Christianity. Many who are of the body of Christ recite the Apostles Creed or the Nicene Creed in their worship as a reminder of what they believe. As a young man, my only testimony was my ability to recite the Apostles Creed. Since then, I've grown and gained a lot more understanding of God's will in my life.
Most Christians around the world worship on a regular basis. Some follow the Christian calendar, all using the same Scripture passages each week. We sing hymns and songs and praises and pray the prayers familiar to most other believers.We also participate in the Eucharist — or Communion or Lord's Supper — as a celebration of what Christ did for us and as a reminder of his promise to come again. We commonly use various means of baptism for the induction of souls into the Body of Christ.
A lawyer once asked Jesus, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matthew 22:36-39)
We know there is some very serious false teaching and wicked behavior in American churches that needs to be dealt with. But in doing so, let us act in a truthful, loving and prescribed manner with the goal of redemption, not condemnation. Let us encourage relationships that draw us together, with an emphasis on growing in faith, hope, and love. Let us avoid dividing ourselves over secondary issues and strive not to be stumbling blocks to those growing in Christ. Let us gladly set aside our own desires for the sake of our brethren. Let us learn to trust God, who will enable us to come together in kindness, forgiveness and power. By doing so, we fulfill Christ's commandment, which produces the most convincing evidence of our unity in Christ.
Jerome Huebner is an elder and teacher at Salem Road Covenant Church in Rochester. Pulpit runs on the Saturday faith pages and features reflections from area religious leaders. To contribute, contact Life Section Editor Jeff Pieters at 285-7748 or firstname.lastname@example.org.