“To: The Angel who makes this possible!”
“My prayer is not for them alone. 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. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—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.”
I had the great honor to preach to the congregation at Greater Victory Temple in Seaside where my friend Pastor Ronald Britt is senior pastor. Though I preached to a camera with a largely empty sanctuary, the room was still filled with joy. The handful of volunteers and staff present punctuated my sermon with “Amen!” which helped this Presbyterian pastor get excited to preach here again.
As part of my sermon, I shared Revelation 7:9-12 which gives this vision of our eternal destiny as a diverse people of God worshiping at the feet of King Jesus:
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” (Verse 9). I couldn’t help but point out that I was a Chinese American pastor from a largely white Presbyterian church preaching at a black Pentecostal church because amidst our differences we share the most important thing: Jesus Christ, the God who came to save and the King who came to serve. It was a joy to get a small glimpse last Sunday of God’s future kingdom where every skin color, language and church denomination will be worshiping King Jesus for eternity. I live my life today with the future reality of this eternal Christmas community in mind.
John 17 records Jesus’ prayer for his followers, that we would be “one”. For the past 25 years has used me as a bridge to other Christian denominations and ethnic groups as we work together for the gospel to be shared in word and deed. Unity among Christians is how Jesus says the world will know through the Son the love that God has for us (verse 23).
The picture above was sent by our friend, Sister Martha Henry, who received this note from someone who has been personally blessed by the food pantry at her home. Because of the partnership between Greater Victory Temple and Carmel Presbyterian Church, hundreds of people are getting essential food and supplies while being introduced to the good news that Jesus Christ is their true hope. Martha regularly tells people when they ask why she does this that it’s not about her generosity but because of the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Christian unity can be a powerful force for good.
One day we will bow down before Jesus with Presbyterians, Baptists, Pentecostals, Catholics and Orthodox…celebrating with God how he used our small efforts of partnering together for his good news to be made known. I get excited about this kingdom vision as we draw near to Christmas, remembering that Christ came that the whole world would know God’s love and the eternal life that is found in Christ alone.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
How does this kingdom vision of diverse people worshiping Jesus encourage you today? How could you participate in a bridge-building activity with Christians that might look different than you or even have different doctrinal traditions? Where we can focus on what we agree upon more than our differences? What distinctions are important to keep even as we strive for unity?
Jesus, you prayed that your followers would be one. Help me to be a bridge to other Christians that might be different than me. I pray that our oneness would be a witness to your love that an unbelieving world might take notice and give glory to you. I long for the day when all people will bow down to worship you, King Jesus. Come, Lord Jesus, come! Amen.