What does it mean to be “one with each other?” Last week, I shared with you that each month we offer this prayer when we receive the sacrament of Holy Communion: “By your spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world.” This is our prayer as a church both locally and globally. We want to live into our calling as ONE church united under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
In the book of Acts, we see a glimpse of this type of church. After Peter has addressed the crowds and three thousand people gave their lives to Jesus after Peter’s message, Luke then describes what this early church looked like: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common…Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people,” (Acts 2:42-44, 46-47).
When Luke writes these early believers “were together and had everything in common,” are we to believe there were no disagreements among them? Of course not! I’m sure they had different opinions, thoughts, and viewpoints on matters related to their church and the society in which they lived. But they were united in what mattered most — their love for God and their love for each other.
Unity with one another does not always mean we will agree nor approve of the actions and/or decisions of our brothers and sisters in faith. We can be united in our love for one another and accept one another as fellow children of God. There is an old Latin quote that is often attributed to Augustine: “In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas.” In English, this translates as, “In essentials unity; in non-essentials liberty; in all things charity.” John Wesley often quoted this phrase (in fact, many believe he was the originator of the quote) and he is credited with our modern day version of this phrase, “we can agree to disagree.”
Let us agree that Jesus is Lord, that he was crucified and raised from the dead for the forgiveness of our sins, and eternal life is possible through Jesus. And let us not become labored with our disagreements with one another that we hurt our witness of Christ in this world. Because in all things, we are called to love God and love one another.
Next week, we will wrap up this e-votion as we discuss the final phrase in that Communion prayer: “…one in ministry to all the world.” As always, I hope you have a great weekend and I look forward to being with you in worship on Sunday at 8:45 and 11:00!
With Grace and Peace,
P.S. This Sunday in worship, we will be collecting a special offering for the North Georgia Conference Housing and Homeless Ministries. I have the opportunity to serve on this board for the last three years, and I believe this group is doing some excellent work with the poor and impoverished all over north Georgia. This past fall, our church received a grant from the Housing and Homeless Council to help with our Friday’s Child weekend backpack ministry. I hope you will prayerfully consider supporting this special offering that provides these grants each year to ministries all around our conference. To learn more about the Housing and Homeless Council, visit their website at nghhc.org.