Unity in the Cross and not the Ceremony

Amos was a prophet who spoke against the vanity of big ceremonies when the lives of the people are filled with injustice and unrighteousness. Amos 5:18-24 was the Old Testament read yesterday in my congregation. I preached on this lesson, and I found myself still circling around this text when I woke up today. I want to figure out how to bring unity to worship and life so that the promises of God are found in more than just the words of worship.

I think it is important to wrestle with the struggle between words and works. Many people struggle to bring unity to worship and life. I do not want to be content with big ceremonies that are matched with lives weak in justice and righteousness. So I think congregations will be stronger when we are united in more than just the externals ceremonies and rites.

Our true unity is found when we are assembled by the rescuing words of Jesus. My connection to God is not found in the beat of the song that I sing, the flowing of my robes, or the particular posture of my hands when I pray. The foundation for my unity with God is not found in my works. I am one with God because of the work of Christ. How does this unity with Christ through His work change the works of my own hands?

Congregations must find unity in the work of Christ. The work of Christ is the lens through which we are called to understand ourselves and also how we are called to see others. I am tired of seeing my enemies in fear and worry, I want to see all people as ones whom Christ loves and seeks to redeem. I think the only way I can change how I see people is to trust in the work of Christ to be the one who brings rescue.

I am not seeking a unity in just externals. I am not seeking a unity built on an empty promise of acceptance. I am seeking unity in the forgiveness of sins found in Christ Jesus. I want to be united in the truth that we are all sinners, and only through the working of the Spirit of God will we repent of our sin and trust in Jesus.

I am confident the culture of a congregation can be transformed when the unifying principle is no longer driven by fear or comfort. The culture of a congregation can be turned towards justice and righteousness when the cross cultures us to see how God is at work among the weak, broken, and struggling.

Justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a stream in our lives when we find ourselves united to the work of Christ on the cross.


The Unity of the Trinity

“and the catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance.”

These are words from the Athanasian Creed. I appreciate that this creed defines the catholic faith in terms of worship. The catholic faith is not found in being able to write a dissertation about the Trinity.

We are not saved by knowledge but by faith that worships God. There is no other name in heaven or earth or under the earth by which we will be saved. It is in God alone, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that we are saved.

We need to be saved because sin separates us from the unity of God. I think it is interesting to notice that in Genesis 3 we do not witness God walking in the garden until after Adam and Eve have sinned.

It is not until after the sin of Adam and Eve that there exists a disconnection between God and His creation. The fullness of the unity of God is found in His unity with His creation. Sin creates a division between God and His created. Now in our sinfulness we are painfully aware of our separation from all that is pure and noble. Adam and Eve heard the sound of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day and they hid from him.

We produce in ourselves the illusion that we can hide from God because we understand ourselves as radically different from God. In the perfectness of creation we were different than God. Yes we were created in his image, but there was a unity in our relationship that did not highlight the differences.

We vainly try to manufacture our own benchmarks of greatness and wonder. We find that our self made gods can never satisfy our desires for wholeness. The lusts for the other will never bring delight because it is a vain and selfish pursuit.

I will search for the full blessedness that is found in unity with God in all sorts of selfish pursuits. I give thanks that as much as I go down dead end, the love of God is revealed in his grace filled delight in me.

Our Lord God shows us in the sending of Jesus to be our Messiah that the full blessedness of unity with God is found only in His joining into our despair. When I can trust that God is present in the midst of death and despair I find the power of His unity.

This is the whole and universal faith that brings salvation, that we worship Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God in His wholeness is united in seeking my unity with Him.

I pray that God would give me the wisdom to see each person I meet as a part of the gracious unity that is Him at work in this world.

United with Christ

John 17:1-11
Jesus prays to His father and asks that we may be one just as He and the father are one.

In this prayer for unity Christ longs for the glory of God to be known.

Jesus talks about eternal life in terms of knowing the Father and Jesus the Christ.

How do we know God?

Jesus describes it through his work of manifesting the name of God and sharing the Word with the world that we might believe in Him and the one whom sent Him.