One Body, Many Members
By Lois J. Stucky
Many Western missionaries have developed a good attitude toward Christian unity while living in a country where they are much in the minority. There, opportunities for Christian fellowship with ones of their own race or doctrine are often rare. Missionaries find themselves more accepting of differences in their eagerness for fellowship with those who share their love for the Lord.
The common goal of making disciples for Christ of the ones among whom God has sent the missionaries to labor, is strong reason for them to bond together. This is to be the Christian’s goal wherever he is, but in a land where there is often another religion predominating, most Christians will sense in a greater way, their need to stand together with other Christians as they press toward their common goal of winning and discipling souls. Differences matter less; what they have in common matters more.
In the practicalities of everyday life, there is often deeper appreciation for fellow Christian brothers and sisters in a land where there is greater need one of another. It might be the missionary is traveling hundreds of miles through a stretch that has no restaurants, no auto repair shops or even gasoline (petrol) stations. You can imagine how heart-warming it is to find a missionary home along the way, where there is a smile and a glass of cool lemonade and perhaps even an invitation for a meal, or help with a vehicle problem.
Christian hospitality or need of the only help in sight opens the way to discover admirable things about some whom they actually knew little about before. The "we-be-brethren" spirit develops and prevails over differences. Good fellowship and praying together are enjoyed and friendships are forged. Unity is fostered.
Emergencies of many sorts bring Christians into a closer unity than they normally experience. Life-and-death situations develop and there is an heroic working together to gain the victory or carry out the rescue or whatever. We see this unity even among the unsaved just because we are fellow members of the human race. How much stronger should be the bonds between Christian brothers and sisters who have the same Father, and the same Spirit. We live in an emergency hour that will grow increasingly intense. If for no other reason, we should practice unity now in preparation for when we need one another more urgently. But is not Christian love and obedience to the Bible’s instructions, the higher motive we want to follow?
Unity and Revival
It has been said, there can be no revival without unity. "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!...There the Lord commanded the blessing" (Psalm 133:1,3). There revival is possible.
And revival enhances unity. An old issue of Herald of His Coming contains the following short item:
"A man, through whose land ran a mountain stream, went into the business of raising ducks. He made stout pens, and into each pen he put a distinct breed of ducks. All was well until a flood came. Then the waters rose over the pens and the ducks were seen swimming together.
"Today we are all fenced off in our denominational coops, but as we pray for the downpours and floods of the Holy Spirit, we will be lifted above the barriers of creed and dogma and experience --and Christ’s prayer will be answered--we will be one as He and the Father are One (John 17:18-23; Philippians 2:1-4)."
When we lived in Los Angeles we were privileged to attend some Concerts of Prayer, which focused on prayer for revival and for world evangelization. The meetings drew together people of various races and denominations. We looked forward to the meetings. Some were held in churches similar to that which we attended and the meetings were conducted by those of the host church much in the way with which we were accustomed. We also attended Concerts of Prayer in churches of our black brothers and sisters, and there were differences to which we adjusted.
One moving evening was a meeting in an Armenian Church. Most of those in the host church had recently arrived in our country from areas where they had suffered for their faith. They prayed in the Armenian language and we understood none of their actual words, but we could read much into the tears that streamed down their faces as they prayed, and the fervency of the deep heart cries they sent heavenward. Our hearts went out to them and echoed a strong "Amen!" to what we didn’t understand but sensed as good and right and sincere.
How enlarging it is to have heart fellowship with those outside our usual pattern. One in Christ! How beautiful it is to the Father and the Son and the Spirit! Do not many of us need to actively pursue opportunities to foster unity, and not simply continue on in our usual pattern where we feel comfortable and at ease? Can we do it for Jesus’ sake?
"My Beloved Brethren..."
In the four Gospels when the word "brethren" occurs, it almost always refers to blood brothers. In the Acts and epistles, written after Pentecost, many times it is the believers who are referred to as "brethren." If you check your concordance, you might be surprised to see how frequently and consistently Paul addressed believers as "brethren." It beautifully indicates the close, family relationship God meant His people to have.
Jesus was not understood by many when He said, "Who are My brethren?....Whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister and mother" (Matthew 12:48,50). The coming of the Holy Spirit knit Christian hearts together in a warm, brotherly relationship. They were children of the same Father, partakers of the same divine nature, having the same holy love shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit.
How we need the Lord’s help in these days to discern when we should and when we should not wish "God-speed" to others professing to be Christian brethren. There are those who are subtly anti-Christ and do evil. Beware!
But on the other hand we are not to allow separation over non-essentials when there is a genuine walking in God’s commandments (2 John 1-11). It is remarkable to learn of the prayer and fasting efforts that are arising, uniting people of many denominations in seeking God. How thankful we can be for these! God is yet calling us to humble ourselves and repent and pray. How great is His long-suffering to us children of men!
We encourage you to take part as widely as the Lord leads and enables, in prayer fellowship with ones with whom such fellowship is new to you. When God gives us opportunity, we must consider what our responsibility is, and not think it our prerogative to pick and choose. Let us sincerely endeavor to find what He would have us to do. Things are building to a climax in our world today. What and when it will break remains to be seen. Might we not be caught on couches of self-indulgence and beds of ease, if we ought to be on prayer sentinel duty with fellow Christian soldiers! God help us not to fail Him! Pray that we at Herald of His Coming will be faithful in doing all He wants us to do!
"Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24:42-44).
Our Thanks to You!
We take this opportunity to say how greatly we appreciate the many Christian brothers and sisters who write us, who stand with us with supporting gifts and who pray for us at Herald of His Coming. Without your heart-strengthening undergirding, this ministry could not exist. Some of you do not agree with all that you read in Herald of His Coming. We do our best to print that which is true to God’s Word, but we readily confess that we are not infallible. The Lord has gathered a precious fellowship of believers to support this ministry, those who graciously accept our little staff as sincere Christians and bear with us in that which they view differently. One day we will all see more clearly than now and misunderstandings and nonunderstandings will exist no more when we are present with Him who is Light.
In the meantime let us continue to love one another and pray one for the other, and work together with God to accomplish that which is much on His heart, all the while "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3). Though we do not know most of you writers in person, we often sense a kindred, caring spirit, and how that does encourage us! "All one body we," with the same glorious Head!
Thank you, brothers and sisters in Christ who are laboring with us in this work of the Lord! It is a very blessed privilege given us of God to be united in heartfelt labors for our dear Lord and Saviour. Won’t it be grand when we can fellowship in person around the throne of our God! The fellowship of the Spirit is sweet here; what will it be there!