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If you're a church leader, it's important to review Christ's vision for his church. As the Apostle's Creed summarizes it, we are to be "one," "holy," and a "communion." In LeaderLines, lets take three weeks to reflect on each of those three
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. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Now, in one sense, Christ's intent is already fulfilled. Down through the ages and around the world, God's church transcends cultures, generations, languages, and governments. In one of his letters, Paul uses the word "one" seven times in just three
verses to speak of what we experience in church: "There is one body and one Spirit -- just as you were called to one hope when you were called -- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all"
First, we must connect with a specific congregation. Other religions may say, "To know the purpose of life, obey these rules," or "take this path," or "meditate in this manner," or "practice this routine." Jesus says, "To know the purpose of life, gather with others who love me. Where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them" (see Matthew 18:20).
If you spent some of your childhood days in church, or if you're taking your children to a church now, you've probably come across the little hand motions that teachers use to teach kids the habits of church attendance. You weave your fingers together, palms up, and then fold your hands together so that the thumbs are before your face. With your index fingers pointing upward as a kind of steeple, you say to the kids you're teaching, "Here's the church, here's the steeple," and then you open your hands and wiggle your linked-up fingers as you say, "Open the doors and see all the people." I love Randy Frazee's reminiscence about that little rhyme. He writes:
I have a son who was born without a left hand. One day in Sunday school the teacher was talking with the children about the church. To illustrate her point she folded her hands together and said, 'Here's the church, here's the steeple; open the doors and see all the people.' She asked the class to do it along with her -- obviously not thinking about my son's inability to pull this exercise off. Yet in the next moment it dawned on her that my son could not join in. Before she could do anything about it, the little boy next to my son, a friend of his from the time they were babies, reached out his left hand and said, "Let's do it together." The two boys proceeded to join their hands together to make the church and the steeple.
I can't think of a better way to illustrate the truth of that little children's rhyme! Paul prayed, "May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,
that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"
LeaderLines is a weekly "e-briefing" providing valuable information and inspiration to those who serve at Hillcrest Baptist Church.