Monday, May 13, 2013

Prayer for Unity in the Body of Christ

Yesterday in worship, I shared with a heavy heart about the upcoming protest that has been announced for this Saturday by the Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kansas on the campus of the University of Alabama. Today, I ask for your fervent prayers for unity in the body of Christ.

Please take some time, perhaps on Saturday in particular, for prayer. In the spirit of Christian love, we need to pray for those who bring discord to the Church, rather than participating in a spirit of disunity by being spiteful in return.

On Saturday, Tuscaloosa will witness a great expression of disunity, of spiritual arrogance and fractured Christianity, of hatred disguised as Christian love. The protest will be right there on campus. Most have heard of this church’s activities. They are known for inflammatory protests, for picketing funerals, military events, and places of tragedy with signs as offensive as “God hates fags” and “Thank God for dead soldiers”. They have said that they plan to do this in Tuscaloosa to "remind them of the wrath of God that visited them two years ago," when six Alabama students and 47 other people were killed. The church claims God is punishing America for our sin.

I appreciate the response of the mayor of Tuscaloosa, acknowledging their right to protest peacefully, but adding that "Personally, I have a different take. The God I saw after April 27 was a God of love, compassion and generosity." That is my point of view as well.

Events like this remind me there is so much brokenness in body of Christ. Sometimes we are NOT one as Jesus prayed for us to be one. If you need it as you pray, information is available on their website which is, sadly, named "" There they espouse their beliefs, which include this statement openly directed at those of us in Methodist tradition:

Even though the Arminian lies that "God loves everyone" and "Jesus died for everyone" are being taught from nearly every pulpit in this generation, this hasn't always been the case. If you are in a church that supposedly believes the Bible, and you are hearing these lies, then your church doesn't teach what the Bible teaches.

When I consider groups in Church history that have been divisive, my heart leads me back to Jesus' prayer in John chapter 17. His prayer for all of who would follow him is that we are one, just as he and the Father were one. For Jesus, this is not a criticism of those who have disagreement. Rather, it is an invitation for all his followers to participate in the life of the Trinity and the communion of love.

Unity is not just a local yearning for churches, who in the spirit of Christ need to find ways to value each other and hear each other's voices in openness of communication and respect. Unity is a macro-church need.

Let us begin by praying for, not just criticizing, the people who will be picketing on Saturday. We may never really know what pain and hurt has led them to this place of condemnation. This Sunday, on the day of Pentecost, let us get in touch with the fire of the Holy Spirit that brought miraculous unity in the beginnings of the church. Let us pray for that fire to burn brightly in our hearts.