Heather MacDonald | Quite the Opposite | December 4, 2020

QUITE THE OPPOSITE

Among the many things I have been covering with my kids this year, as we embark on a new journey of homeschooling (another topic for another day), is the concept of “opposites”. You know: hot/ cold; sad/happy; full/empty; big/small…,etc. It’s important for them to know these simple concepts, and they always enjoy being quizzed and seeing how many they know.

This idea of “opposites” hit me the other day as I was re-listening to a recent sermon and then reflecting on a passage that came to mind from the book of John.  Here, we see Jesus praying to his father and he says these words in 7:20-23

 I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

I know that, on first glance, the idea of “opposites” isn’t obvious here, but bear with me. Jesus is praying for his people - and he’s praying for us who will come to believe in him through their message. He knows that he is about to leave his followers and return to his father. He knows that, as they go out to every corner of the earth spreading the good news of his life and death, they will face difficulty and challenges. So, what is on his heart at this momentous occasion? Unity. Plain and simple. That his people would “be one” in Him.

This idea of unity is so vital and heavy on his heart that he focuses in on this as he prays. Why is it so important? It is the evidence of the truth of the message that his followers proclaim. As an unbelieving world encounters Jesus’ disciples, and comes face to face with this message of hope, what will cause them to stop and take notice? What will help to move them in a direction of faith and belief? Our unity. This is where I was struck with the idea of “opposites”. If our unity is a steppingstone to help unbelievers in their acceptance of Christ, would it not be accurate to say that our division would do the complete opposite? Encountering Christians who are constantly at war with one another does not add much credibility to our message, does it?

I am sure you can think of families you have met throughout your life that are dysfunctional. You know the ones I mean - always quarreling, full of family drama. It’s sad, yes, but also off- putting to be around. I would not want to be a part of that type of family and I’m sure you’d echo that sentiment. Such homes are not places of peace and joy that someone would be drawn to. In fact, I am sure if you are like me, you would do your best to limit time around such a family. And yet, we as Christians often wonder why those outside of our church communities are not drawn to Christ or accepting of our message. Could it be that, at least in part, they witness far too much disunity and disharmony within our own walls to actually believe the message we declare? I have to say that I am thankful that at Summerside, although we are not a perfect church, this is not a major issue for us. We experience harmony and a real sense of family here that is often lacking in many other churches. But we can still work on it, right? What areas of our church life could we work harder at in sowing seeds of unity and love? How do we interact on social media? How do we talk about and handle issues that we differ on? Can we disagree with hearts of grace and compassion towards one another? Even in our own homes, as followers of Christ, how do those who interact with us see evidence of unity, even amidst disagreements and conflict? The reality is that no family is immune to disagreement. At some point in our life together, we will face areas that we differ on and on which we hold our own unique perspectives. That is okay. I don’t believe unity means never disagreeing; it’s deeper than that. It’s this idea of “being one” in Christ, united by and in him because of the gospel, regardless of or personal opinions or preferences on secondary issues. Even more so, in today’s world, wherein people have become so divided and at odds with one another, this is even more crucial for those of us who profess to be followers of Christ.

If we want our message to hold sway and have impact with an unbelieving world, we have to continue to work hard at fostering and building unity. The “opposite” of this is contrary to the heart of our King and his desire for us. We cannot afford to live in opposition to his prayer for us - the impact of our mission to make disciples is at stake - and that is too great a cost.

We do this so that “…that the world may believe…”.

Let’s be a family that loves one another despite and through our differences, so that we can continue to be effective for the glory of Christ and his name.

 

*Heather MacDonald Bio: I’ve been married to Deven for 14 years. We have three kids ages 6, 5 and 2. We have been on staff at Summerside for about 8 years. I was a missionary kid growing up and spent a big chunk of my life in Scotland. I came to Canada at age 20 for bible college and that’s where I met Deven - never looked back 😊 I love music - song writing/singing, lifting heavy weights, and being out in nature with my family.

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