UNITY!

Jan Antonsson

body_9915aThe Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway

May 6, 2017

Neosho, MO

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (I Peter 3:8, ESV).

The word “Unity” has been coming to me often over the past 2 weeks, and when that happens, it means there’s a writing bubbling in my spirit, waiting to come out.  My first thought was that this was too high a mountain to scale, too deep an ocean to swim, and too heady a topic for me to tackle.  After all, look around you.  Do you find unity anywhere these days, in politics, in religion, or in your bridge club?  What do I know about achieving unity among the brethren?  Based on the topics I’ve been given to write about, “Not much,” you would say and I would agree.

However, when the Spirit continues to whisper the word “unity” to me at odd times and in unexpected places, I know that resistance is futile and it’s best to surrender and write what He gives me. Come join me as we explore it together.

The Apostle Paul gives us a picture of the goal for the body of Christ:   “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3, ESV).  We’ve missed the mark of that high calling by a country mile, as they say in these parts.

Considering all the religious divisions among us evidenced by over 30,000 different denominations, the task of achieving Paul’s vision seems patently hopeless.  It has remained so for two millennia and shows no sign of improvement to date.  When brethren cannot come to peaceful agreement, often times, the church splits and each faction goes their own way until they too cannot agree, and then they split again.  

My angst about this topic stems from my experiences in two painful church splits, one in 1970 and a second in 1980.  In both instances, disunity of mind, a total lack of brotherly love, sympathy or humility, sent many of us into spiritual turmoil.  I couldn’t bear the chaos of it, and without doubt, the experiences were instrumental in my parting ways from organized religion and regular church attendance.  After we married in 1981, Lenny and I attended churches here and there as he felt led, but we did not place membership with any of them.  For me, enough was enough.

In 1998, Father God called Lenny to an adult men’s Sunday School class in a Baptist Church here in Neosho, and He led me to do the Sunday service at Medicalodge (local nursing home), which was a blessing for the 11 years I was out there.  I gave them all the goodies the Spirit was giving me for The Glory Road Internet ministry, and they ate it up.  How could that be, I wondered at first, since were I to go into any church here in town and give them the same message, I could expect to be excommunicated and given the left foot of fellowship out the door forthwith.  The Baptist men often told Lenny he was full of it, blaspheming against the Lord, etc., but they didn’t exile him, and brotherly love ultimately did prevail.

My experience with church unity, or lack of same, has been a discouraging, disappointing and painful mess.  Thus, I reasoned, why should I write about it because I have no answers to the question I would ask Paul if he were sitting across the desk from me:  How can we ever achieve unity?  Paul started churches all over Asia minor, but he had one huge advantage that we do not:  the visible, life changing power of God to back up his words with miracles of all kinds.

Providentially, the Bible itself answers all the questions it raises.  You’ll remember that when Mary asked the angel Gabriel how she could conceive since she was a virgin, he replied,  “For nothing will be impossible with God (Luke 1:37, ESV).  Likewise, when Jesus told His disciples that, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25, ESV), they were astounded and asked Him how that could be.  “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God’” (Mark 10:27, ESV).  Hallelujah for that!

Achieving Unity is another of those things only possible with God. As I was pondering this, the Lord reminded me of one of my all time favorite passages: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned…Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; … And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken’’ (Isaiah 40:1-2; 4-5, ESV).  The fact that, “all flesh” shall see it together, means it is a promise for this earth, one we don’t have to die to receive!  The proof of that conclusion is Paul’s declaration that, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (I Corinthians 15:50, ESV).

What can be more comforting to God’s people than these words which proclaim that our warfare is ended; our sins are pardoned; our valleys shall be lifted up and our mountains brought low, and perhaps best of all, ALL flesh, every single one of us, shall see the glory of the Lord together.  How can we be sure?  Because the mouth of the Lord has spoken it, this is a promise we can take to the bank!

The Scriptures reflect many promises that are inclusive of everyone.  Here are a few, which you no doubt know, but to me, Good News like this is worth repeating. In spite of the many different religious beliefs, Paul concluded, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:4-6, ESV).  Now, that’s inclusivity and unity of the highest order!

Our Father God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4, ESV).  He wills that all should come to repentance (II Peter 3:9).  As a result of that, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”  (Philippians 2:10-11, ESV).  And best of all, God Himself bears the responsibility for our disobedience “For God has locked up all in the prison of unbelief, that upon all alike He may have mercy”  (Romans 11:32, Weymouth).

Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father, who answered, “How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?…Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves” (John 14:9,11, ESV).

To me, this verse answers the first question in this essay, HOW do we achieve unity?  There is total unity between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and we are participants in this relationship.  As with everything else in our journey, we must depend upon God, to bring it to pass in our lives, and we accept by faith that He is doing it!  We were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Christ and the Father are one; we are in them and they are in us, which is by definition, UNITY!  It’s clearly a God job from first to last!

Father, thank You for including us in Your union with Christ and the Holy Spirit. In You, we live and move and have our being.  We give You praise and worship and honor and blessings, now and forever, world without end, as we join our voices with “the voice of a great multitude, and the voice of many waters, and the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.”  Amen.  Jan Antonsson

Jan Austin Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail Address)

From 1997-2010, all our writings are on

The Glory Road

From 2010 until the present, our writings are on this blog.

We always enjoy hearing from you!

Jantonsson@aol.com

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