There are 43k+ Christian denominations today, and such an ongoing polarised state of the faith is a tragedy for the world. Agreement is that important.
When someone moving away from Hinduism to Jesus mentioned that she couldn’t make sense of the ceaseless disputing amongst their “gods”, my mind went back to how the most ancient tales of the origin of the universe, like the Babylonian Enuma Elish, always involve conflict between deities.
Surely then, with all our functional divisions through disagreement we are imaging something less than the nature and glory of the one true God (1 Corinthians chapter 8 verse 6). This would have to make us functionally idolaters (Romans chapter 1 verse 23)! Dreadful to contemplate.
I remember praying with a younger believer a while ago, at the end of our prayers he remarked that he had never thought of praying for Catholics before! In its Sunday prayers, does your congregation remember other local churches of a different stripe?
I am being neither naïve nor ideological in insisting that that manifest unity is of vital importance to the Holy Spirit. On his way to the cross Jesus prayed, “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one” (John 17:22).
Asagreement is at the heart of the very being of God, only the Church of God can reveal the divine nature to the world (John chapter 17 verses 21, 23).
Agreement Heals the World
The centrality and power of agreement is perfectly exemplified in Jesus’ life. Whilst Jesus could say, “the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing” (John chapter 5 verse 19), the pinnacle of his choice to agree with the will of the Father was made in Gethsemane, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark chapter 14 verse 36).
It is this choice to acutely suffer in the near future so that he may enter into an endless joy (Hebrews chapter 12 verse 2). This is the joywhich reverses all the fragmentation that entered the world when Adam and Eve disagreed with God in Eden.
There is a “new creation” through Jesus because “in him all things hold together” (Colossians chapter 1 verse 17) in a will, divine and human, perfectly aligned with the will of his Father (Hebrews chapter 10 verse 7). Because of its reconciling power Christ is completely committed to us reaching holy agreement with each other, whatever it might cost us to reach such unity.
Agree for Joy
The most foundational of all Church Councils is described in Acts chapter 15. Its climactic outcome is expressed simply but profoundly, “it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…’.
The Jewish believers in Jesus had united their wills with that of the Spirit to die in Christ to their age-old insistence that keeping the Law of Moses was essential to being a member of the people of God. Through this painful decision the Early Church was blessed by God to go on growing and multiplying.
I sensed something of the potency of spiritual agreement recently in conversation with a brother who was finding any vaccination decision too painful to handle. It turned out he was still suffering trauma from a (Baptist) church meeting half a century ago when the senior Christians attacked each other like politicians.
I sensed the Spirit of God saying, “I want to share with him the joy of agreeing with me about making a major life decision.” The Spirit did not say what that decision might be, only that it would be was deeply revelatory of the life of Jesus.
The God of the Bible is a God of perfect agreement, if this were otherwise, he would never have created, preserved, and saved us, in Christ. I fear most of us, in practice anyway, have neglected to believe what Jesus taught: “if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven” (Matthew chapter 18 verse 19). Let’s be down to earth. Is agreement an essential part of your marriage, especially its prayers (1 Corinthians chapter 7 verse 5)?
Is your local church noted for its oneness of heart and soul (Acts chapter 4 verse 32)? Ask the Lord yourself about the power of agreement and decide with him to be humbled so that in all things you might share in the single undivided mind of Christ (Philippians chapter 2 verses 3-5).
The Rev. Dr John Yates is an Anglican minister in Perth and has 5 children and 7 grandchildren. He spends time in praying, mentoring and writing.John Yates’s previous articles may be viewed athttp://www.pressserviceinternational.org/john-yates.html