“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” -Psalm 133:1
I haven’t written a lot on this topic, but I wanted to talk about unity among student ministries on campus and churches in the city. I live with two guys who are very strong believers actively involved in ministry on campus, yet neither of them are directly involved in the church, campus ministry, or even denomination that I most identify with. Some of my best friends in college have been Christians from different backgrounds than me.
So I’m sure you’re thinking, “Good for you, but what’s the point? I already have plenty of friends in my own church & campus ministry. Why should I go outside of that relational sphere?” Let me give you just a few points on why it is good to get to know other believers from different backgrounds.
Jesus Prayed For It
“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” -John 17:20-21
Between the last supper and His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, John 17 captures Jesus’ longest recorded prayer. He asked that all of us may be one, in the same way that Jesus is one with the Father. He’s praying for all believers here, not just one specific church or ministry.
The World Will Know
“Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” -John 17:23
A little later in Jesus’ prayer, He says why believers should be unified: so the world will know that Jesus was sent from the Father. God’s heart is for all peoples to know Him and find salvation through Jesus. In every world religion, factions and splits drive people apart.
What kind of impression might be made on a nonbeliever if they know a Catholic, a Methodist, a Baptist, and a Pentecostal who are all good friends and speak well of each others churches and ministries?
Each Part of the Body Has Different Gifts
“But in fact God has placed the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” -1 Corinthians 12:18
1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 are often discussed, and we talk about spiritual gifts. Each believer has certain abilities and spiritual gifts that is needed by others within a congregation or ministry. The same is true at a higher level though: each church and ministry on your campus or in your city has specific spiritual gifts and none of them can fully function without the others.
One ministry may have an amazing heart for prayer, another may do a great job sharing the Gospel or sending students to the nations, and another may have awesome service projects to reach out to those in need. All of these gifts are critical parts of the Church’s mission on Earth, and ministries that “specialize” in each one can be more effective with the help of others.
So this week, be on the lookout for other believers wherever you may be: in class, at work, or in your “third place”. Try to meet others who are actively involved in a church or ministry that is different from yours; get to know them, and see what you can learn from each other.