Wow! What a privilege it is to belong to people in Christs family, Christans.
Notice I don't say Methodists, Anglicans, Pentecostals, Baptists or any other denomination: no, I refer to the better title of Christian for I am a Christian first who secondly works out his faith within the Methodist Church, with all it's foibles and it's joys.
Why am I excited about this today? Because I've just got back from a morning prayer meeting, then business meeting and then lunch meeting (@ Frankie and Bennies) with the other Christian leaders of the town.
There were 19 people gathered representing at least 10 Churches ranging from a small community Church to a couple of very large and thriving Churches, and no difference was made between people. I was warmly welcomed even though my current ear infection meant I could hear very little (only the occasional word) and made to feel at home. During a break from the discussions three people prayed for my hearing (a Pentecostal church lady, a Baptist church lady and an Asian Community church lady- now that's ecumenism for you). After the break my hearing began to improve so that by the end of the business meeting I was able hold comfortable one to one chats ! Praise the Lord.
Afterwards six of us were able to go for a meal together, where the conversation ranged from Anglican lady Bishops, through the current crisis of the Co-op bank chairman to whether or not some hymns can be played on a ukulele !! Incredibly good fellowship.
Not once this morning was there any hint of competition, of animosity or jealousy; just genuine family care. And that's just how it should be………me family, brothers, sisters, cousins genuinely rejoicing in their shared love of Jesus. After all we aren't called by God to promote our own particular denomination, but we are called to proclaim the one who came out of the glory of Heaven, who mixed with outcasts, who went to the cross to die and who was raised from the tomb to glory, the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
So what are we to do about it ? How can we actively promote the unity Jesus spoke of in John's Gospel 17:12 “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.”
Look at the picture of the waterfall, individual drops of water but can you separate them ? No, because they all mix together in the express purpose of creating a river; they are as one and so must we be one. We achieve this by praying actively each day for our neighbouring Churches and not just coldly and ritualisticly but with passion and a hearts zeal for them. We achieve this by genuinely rejoicing at their growth rather than grumbling about ours (for that may be the reason we aren't growing). We achieve this by actively joining in those opportunities to worship together or mission together, rather than seeing if as 'a night off'.
In other words the unity of Jesus must be so much a part of each one of us with the common desire to see Him proclaimed, that like the river our denominations become indistinguishable.
And what happens to those bits of water that splash to one side away from the river ? Either they evaporate in the heat of life, or they remain as a little, irritating puddle. And what happens to puddles that don't evaporate ? They stagnate and become rancid !
Get in the flow with other Christians………..