I think we underestimate the power and importance of loving each other. Consistent love for other Christians is key to a healthy spiritual life because loving fellowship is God’s prescribed environment for growth. This kind of love is based on commitment to God himself. To be committed to God is to be committed to his community, the Church. This is not a commitment to the theory of the church, but to an actual body of other fallible, imperfect people. John Wimber
Our Theme: ON UNITY.
One of the key driving components inside John Wimber and the work he did for God’s kingdom was his amazing ability to love and appreciate the larger body of Christ. Over the years, I believe many have forgotten how careful he was to never speak negatively toward other Christians, even when some of those same brothers and sisters were spouting off publicly with all kinds of negative comments concerning John and the work he was doing for Jesus.
As John states in the quote above, “Consistent love for other Christians is key to a healthy spiritual life” can be difficult. Loving the whole body of Christ is not an easy thing. Loving another brother or sister in your own denomination or in your own church community can be very difficult indeed!
Sadly, in many churches today, the hope of walking in consistent love, never having a major conflict in the midst of church life, is either uninformed at best, or foolish at worst. Gather two people together for the purposes of worshipping God and serving Jesus and before you can say, “Hallelujah,” you’ll have at least two different opinions on how best to do just that! Add in another few hundred sincere worshippers and you can have major conflict brewing in a matter of hours!
As we begin this section of our book on the subject of unity within the body of Christ, let’s get very practical here. It’s not easy living in peace with our Christian brothers and sisters. But yet, as the Bible points out, Jesus does command us, as his followers, to love one another just as he loves us (see John 13: 34-35).
Jesus has commanded us to love others as we love ourselves and we all know how very difficult that is. Wimber’s daughter-in-law, Christy Wimber, shared with us on one of her trips to Cedar Rapids, that there is a difference between trying to find agreement with one another as Christians, and God’s ability to grant us his unity. Finding total agreement with others in the body of Christ is nearly impossible. Over the years, she has come to the conclusion that it’s not even desirable to look for agreement at times, because agreement means that everyone must agree to build community. Unity, on the other hand, means that we are choosing oneness of heart, mind, and spirit, despite our varying opinions or lack of total agreement on all issues.
I like that. And as I see it, so does Jesus.
Lasting peace, you see, within the larger body of Christ, is a tough thing to find when all we will accept is agreement on difficult subjects. But just imagine how beautiful the church might look if you and I would begin asking the Lord to help us find unity in our relationships instead of agreement. When unity becomes our goal, you and I can strongly disagree on certain subjects, but at the end of the day, if we both claim Jesus as our leader, I think he can bring unity that truly binds us together as one.
I recall, with great warmness in my heart, my years of working with the men’s ministry, Promise Keepers (PK). I remember attending one of our PK conferences in Minneapolis. Our team was invited to speak at an African-American church, and as a white man, I felt just a bit uncomfortable in surroundings that were different than my own. I think one of the men from the church recognized my un-comfortableness and he walked right up to me and said, “Welcome, my good friend. I want you to feel right at home here in our church. You see, if God is your Father, Jesus is your Savior, and the Holy Spirit is your friend, then I must be your long-lost brother!” To that, I believe Jesus would say…”Amen and amen.”
Father, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to look for “agreement” amongst men and women with so many differing views on life and ministry. But, thank you, while I may not always find agreement amongst my brothers and sisters, your hand can help us find unity, where our common denominator becomes God as our Father, Christ as our Savior, and the Holy Spirit as our Guide. For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO PONDER
- What needs to change in my approach to loving the whole church?
- Am I fully aware of, and acting upon, the call to unity that Jesus demands from his followers?
- Is my day-to-day Christian life contributing toward the unity of the church or is it serving to divide and isolate brothers and sisters in Christ?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Wisdom of Wimber?
Between Easter 2016 and the end of August, we are sharing with you a blog series we call The Wisdom of Wimber: As I See It. In order to keep all 64 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Wisdom of Wimber page for ease of use. Might we also suggest that you order a copy or two of our book by the same title! It’s available in both paperback and e-book formats…and will soon be available in Spanish! Click here for more info. ENJOY!
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