For thirty years my heart has beat with a great desire for unity among the followers of Jesus. It is not coincidental that the very first time that my writings were published in a Christian magazine, the subject was unity. It is not coincidental that when my first book, The One Another Project, was published earlier this year that the subject was how Christians are to live with and treat one another in unity. The subject burns in my heart because it burns in the heart of God. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1). Jesus said that unity among His followers was visible evidence to a watching world that He is indeed the Savior of the world (John 17:11, 21-23).
Every time I bring up this topic I must also state that the call is not to uniformity but to unity. Unity in the fundamentals of our faith. For the most part, the things that divide the Body of Christ are not the cornerstone issues of the faith but peripheral items. Understanding this, German Lutheran Theologian, Rupertus Meldenius wrote, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”
This past week end, several churches in Truckee endeavored to set aside their differences in the non-essentials and gather together as one around the great essential, Jesus Christ is Lord. And together they put on a community festival that reached out to our community in the love of Christ. That love was proclaimed through the spoken word, through song, through acts of service. Then, yesterday, those churches did something that was unprecedented, at least during my twenty-one years in Truckee, they gathered together as one for worship. They closed the doors of their individual church buildings, got outside of their four walls and together on a grassy hillside at Truckee’s Regional Park, lifted their voices as one in praise to our Almighty God. Together we heard the exhortations from God’s Word to be of one mind, to put aside petty quarrels, to seek those things that bring multiplication in the kingdom not division.
There is no questions that the church bodies gathered together yesterday hold to distinctives in worship and the way that they choose to proclaim the Good News found in the Christ. But we have seen that it is also possible to set aside those distinctives at times so that we may proclaim Christ and Christ alone to our community not the distinctives that are found under our various name tags, that we can come together as one to serve this community which is our home and which we love.
I’m still in the process of quietly assimilating and sorting out in my mind what it was that actually happened this past weekend. I can tell you this, it is part of an answer to the prayers that I have prayed for Truckee these past twenty-one years. As we lifted our voices as one yesterday morning a lump the size of a golf ball filled my throat and tears filled my eyes as I was overwhelmed with the pleasantness of the unity on that grassy hillside. I was also privileged to view the assemble brothers and sisters from the vantage point of the stage when James Gordon called the local pastors forward for prayer. Again my eyes burned with tears, because I saw what God sees when He looks down upon us, not many churches but one.