Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Chapter 6.5 Bring It On In

       When I used to play soccer, after every practice or game I remember the coach would always say, "Okay guys bring it on in." Now, if you have played any organized sport you might have heard this too, or something just like that. I remember no matter if we had won or lost, had a good practice or bad one, he would always "bring us all in" but why? Well, to go over what was good, what was bad, and what we could do about these things. He brought us all in so that we could see that we are still ONE team after ONE goal. Never do I remember, in these moments of the whole team being as one, the coach pointing fingers or blaming anyone. NO instead the talks were about US and how WE need to be a better TEAM. 
       Hopefully by now you can see where I am going with all of this. In the first part of the chapter, like always it is helpful to read it first, I touched on the subject of unity in the idea of embracing differences so that we do not become divided unnecessarily. In this next part I want to talk about coming together so that we can accomplish more and so we can look more like the followers of Christ. (John 13:35) Now, this subject has become a little more difficult to talk on as of recent for me. You may ask why and the answer is simple because recently the Catholic church is trying to fix some of the schisms of the past thus uniting all of the churches again. Some may think it involves only the Catholics and Protestants but actually the Catholics are trying to reconcile with two groups: the Protestants and the Eastern Orthodox Church. (If you do not know who the Eastern Orthodox Church is please go look them up.) There are two camps when it comes to this subject. The first are those who love this idea and think it is the will of God. The second are those who hate this idea and think that this is something of Satan; trying to bring about the one world religion talked about in Revelations. I will not be talking about this subject in this chapter, I would rather you go do your own research and decide for yourself what this may be, but instead do what I normally do and talk on this matter with more practical applications so that we can unite more on a local level.
       We can all see how on a local level that we have slowly become more and more divided.  Now I know that I come from "the Bible belt" of America and in other areas of this country it may not be as bad but, over all, the division is very obvious. So what are some things we can do to end this needless fighting within the body of Christ? As I said in the first part of this chapter the first thing is to embrace differences. The second is putting our money where our mouth is and unite. We can no longer say that we love each other and continue to not work together. It is far past time for us to "bring it on in". 
Bring it on in guys! First thing that we can do to cause unity is to find out what local churches are doing and see how we can help. If you are a part of a church and hear about another church doing an event for the community why not look into it and ask what you can do to help. A great simple way to help is to ask if they need someone to do clean up afterwards. Wouldn't it be great if you where part of an event and another church said, "we would love to serve by helping with set up and tear down"? Well instead of waiting for that why not just go and offer it first. Although this may not seem like a great thing to do trust me it is, this is coming from someone who has been a part of many kinds of events, and I can not imagine that anyone would say no. Showing that we are willing to serve no matter what capacity will help build bridges of unity.
       The next thing that we can do is try and plan events with other churches in mind. Instead of planning an event then trying to get others involved in any way, why not plan one with the other churches in mind first. I know that this sometimes can be hard, because they might say no, but what if by doing this you open up doors that have never been opened. Let me put it like this: If church A wants to do some kind of cook out outreach and instead of trying to do it all themselves then ask other churches if they want to join in church A plans the whole event with other churches already involved. So church A calls church B and says, "Hey would you like to do some outreach with us? We want to do a cook out. We have the food we just need help with the grills." Then church A goes to church C and says, "Hey would you like to do outreach with us? We are doing a cook out. We already have church B bringing the grills, we will bring the food, can you bring an outdoor sound system?" It sounds so simple and to be honest it is. Now, I know that not everyone may jump on the idea but if you do not ask at all the answer is always NO. If we did events more like this instead of the idea of we will do it all and invite people, maybe we would get a better response.
       Another way we can bring unity is a prayer night. We all pray, right? Well if we do then why not try to pray together? Now this one is a little more tricky. This is where embracing differences comes into play but also not forcing our differences on anyone. I know that there are many different styles of worship and prayer but to unite is to lay those aside so that we can come together. An open prayer night to pray for ones city is something that can cause unity if done proper. We must first invite everyone and create an atmosphere that is inviting to all types of people. We all know you can not please everyone all the time but you can try to become all things to all men, like Paul says we should be.
       Finally the best and easiest way is relationship. Why are you part of the church you go to? Well probably because you have a relationship with the people there. Relationship is the key and something that I think we do not do enough of when it comes to bringing unity to the body of Christ. Simply picking up the phone or emailing other churches to try and build relationship is really not all that hard. The reason we do not do this is for one of three reasons: 1) We think that we are sooooo right in our theology and the others are so wrong that we are unable to embrace differences, as long as someones theology is not heresy then it is okay, we simply just do not try. 2) We are afraid that by building relationship with other churches it may cause one church to "lose their people" to another church. The main problem I have with this is that no one is yours or theirs they are all Christ's. 3) We are too prideful to even try to build relationships because we simply think that we are better than others for some reason. We can no longer allow these things to happen. We must remember we are all after one thing: Bringing people into a relationship with God through Christ. If that is truly our goal then it is time to "bring it on in" and work on changing our cities together.
       I love the saying, "No man is an island", but along with that no church should be an island either. We must unite and if no one else is willing to take the first step then you should. You may not be a leader or a pastor but you can do things and try to get your church to come along too. If you are not a leader talk to your pastor about these things and see what you can do to be the change. The body of Christ is made up of many parts and that is okay but being a severed body is not. Embrace differences, build relationships, and work on unity. We know that no kingdom divided can stand so why are we arrogantly trying to divided the kingdom of God? What would it really look like if the world saw churches working together? What can you do to bring unity to the body of Christ?


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