One of the things I like most about our church, the Stroudsburg Wesleyan Church, is our increasing diversity and pervasive unity. In the past couple of years God has brought to us a wonderful, beautiful cross-section of His human creation. Our church is made up of African Americans, Latinos, Koreans, Caribbeans, Caucasians, young, old, middle-aged, long-time Christians, new believers, and seekers. Although diversity of people often means a diversity of preferences, traditions, and convictions, we are becoming one big, happy, and united family under the most important characteristic that defines us- our common love for Christ!
This is so important because our Christian unity, according to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20-23, is the most influential tool we have to communicate the unity between the Father and the Son, the divinity of Christ. We can hand out all the tracts in the world. We could go door to door all day and everyday telling people how much God loves them. But if we at SWC cannot love each other, despite our differences, nothing we tell people about Christ’s love is going to make that much difference. The good news is we are becoming, more and more, a family who loves each other and seeks to share that love with those who have yet to come into the family to experience the Father’s love.
Jesus’ prayer reveals his deep desire for our unity in the church. But let me ask a couple of questions which I hope you will respond to:
· How is unity developed in the life of a local church?
· What is the difference between unity and conformity?
· Why is unity in the church so closely related to our witness in the world?