“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.” – John 17:20-23 (NIV)
During this coronavirus pandemic there is one thing that has become abundantly clear — 2020 was a hard year.
We saw some of the most dark and evil things take place in our country. Things that have always been there, but with isolation due to the pandemic, and digital media being at our fingertips, we were forced to pay attention.
Prior to COVID-19, our lives were filled with church programs, events and the busyness of life. We probably didn’t have the time to slow down and engage with the things happening in our world, and perhaps, right in our own cities and churches.
But COVID-19 caused everyone to slow down. It was as if God was saying to his people, “I need you to slow down for a season.” It was as if the Lord was calling us to pay much closer attention to the things that break His heart—racial injustice and racism.
There is no denying that the tragic and sinful events of racial injustice over the past few months have brought much controversy and many hard conversations. Perhaps it has even brought division in your churches and the body of Christ at large.
But what if we paused for a moment and asked ourselves this — “What if God is using the racial injustices and deep-rooted racism of our country to get the church’s attention? What if God is using the events in the world to wake up the church and help us see that there is a problem?”
Could it be that God is cleansing and healing the church through the events that have taken place over the past few months?
Satan seeks to thwart the plans of God and divide the church (John 10:10, 1 Peter 5:8) but Christ died on the cross to defeat Satan’s power and authority in our lives and to unite us as one.
Jesus prayed for that oneness (John 17:13-23), Christ died for that oneness (Ephesians 2:14-18) and Paul reminds us of our oneness — one body; one Spirit; one hope, Lord, faith, baptism; and one God and Father of all, over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:5-6).
At the foot of the cross we all stand as guilty, condemned sinners, but at the foot of that same cross we all receive the same grace that unites us as one family.
So how can we fight to attain this blood-bought oneness?
- Educate yourself.
Before we can move ahead, we must look back. It will be very challenging to experience oneness if you lack the knowledge of people’s history and experiences. Search for some books, podcasts or articles that will help you gain knowledge. There is a reason why African Americans feel the way they do during these moments, and it’s because of a long history.
- Be quick to hear and slow to speak.
James would urge us to be slow in our speaking and quick in our hearing as it can lead to unrighteousness that does not honor God (James 1:19). It’s OK to just listen and ask questions. Wisdom is gained when we can just sit silently and listen to others without feeling the obligation to give a response to everything.
- Be a brother or sister in Christ.
I really believe we have lost sight of what it means to be a brother or sister in Christ. If one part of the body is hurting and in pain, then the whole body is (1 Corinthians 12:26). Let us be people who are filled with compassion, sympathy, love, forgiveness, grace and patience. Let us embody the “one anothers” of Scripture.
- Recognize that disunity weakens our witness.
If we are divided as the body and don’t get along, how will a lost and dying world see Jesus and come to know Him through us? We are Christ ambassadors, God making His appeal through us (2 Corinthians 5:20). Let us be holy ambassadors, controlled by love, seeking to proclaim the majesty of God to all.
My prayer is that we experience Revelation 7:9-10 on this side of heaven. Churches are filled with so many different people from all backgrounds and walks of life. If we are going to see that come to fruition, then we must begin to fight harder for the oneness that our Lord and Savior died for, so that the world may know that we belong to God.