The following is an excerpt from my book Campus Renewal – A Practical Plan to Unite Campus Ministries in Prayer and Evangelism.
One Church on Campus
In God’s eyes, there is one church on our campus. All who confess the name of Jesus and have made Him Lord of their lives are part of God’s family, the universal Church. “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26–28). Spiritually speaking, we are already one. Every Christian agrees with this, but we struggle knowing how to make what is true in the heavenly realm a reality here on earth.
I mentioned earlier during my first year of ministry how difficult it was trying to get the campus ministers to start a Fusion Group. One statement I often heard was, “We’re already united in Christ. We don’t need to pray together to be united.” I always found this statement silly because we’d never apply the same argument to other areas of our lives. Brenda and I have been one in God’s eyes since we were married on September 29, 2001. How would Brenda respond to me if she were trying to grow closer to me in our marriage and I said, “We’re already one in God’s eyes. Why do we need to spend more time together and grow more in love?” You can guess how she would respond!
Practicing Our Oneness
Similarly, we’re already holy in God’s eyes because of the sanctifying work of Jesus on our behalf. However, we’re never told to simply sit on what is spiritually true. We’re called to “walk out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) and to “offer our bodies as living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1). In the same way, scripture makes clear that we are to “make every effort” to make what is true spiritually (our oneness in Christ) a living reality on our campuses. Paul encourages the church in Ephesus, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2–3).
There is nothing passive about what he is asking the Church to do. After three chapters describing all that Christ did to make the Church one Body in God’s eyes, he was now asking them to walk out their unity. Paul continues, asking them to use their unique gifts to “prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the Body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12–13).
Ephesians is the premier biblical book on ecclesiology (the study of the Church), and it is a book calling us to practice our unity. God calls us to “make every effort” to be unified. He wants us to work as one Body to reach our campuses with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to “make every effort” because God asks us to do so, and our obedience honors Him. I believe God asks us to do so because He knows that when we are unified two things happen: The spiritual climate of our campus changes, and we are able to maximize our gifts and strengths.
Justin Christopher is the director of Campus Renewal Ministries at the University of Texas and author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the misssonal community movement at the University of Texas.