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Thursday: Unity in Mission — 7 Comments

  1. I have mentioned on this blog on several occasions that I am a keen bird photographer and observer. I spend a lot of my time in isolation in Australian bush looking for and watching birds. Sometimes I get together with other bird enthusiasts. One particular time, the word got around that a Regent Honeyeater had been seen in a particular location nearby, so I gathered up one of my birdwatching mates and we headed to the location. The Regent Honeyeater was there - actually there were three of them. So too were about 30 other birdwatchers and environmental scientists. Some I knew from previous encounters, others I knew by reputation. We stayed around for about four hours photographing the Regent Honeyeaters and exchanging information and ideas. It was a really great meeting, I made new friends, enjoyed great conversation, and took some great photos of a bird that is very close to becoming extinct.

    I thought about the people that I met that day. Some were beer-swilling ockers, others were arrogant pratts, some were women, not too many of them were Christian, yet here we were gathered together under that Blackbutt trees united with a common purpose of sharing a moment with some Regent Honeyeaters. The thing that bonded us together was a common interest in Regent Honeyeaters, and more generally, in the welfare and protection of Australian Native Birds. We put aside our differences of gender, race, religion, educational background, and social status to unite in a common purpose that binds us together.

    Perhaps I should stop there - excessive moralistic explanation can be unnecessary, but I will add two sentences:

    Seventh-day Adventists do have a common uniting purpose in mission that we should spend more time thinking about and much more time acting upon. If we spent more time on our mission and less on our differences we would be more effective.

    • There is a Jamaican saying that means that while the grass is growing the horse is starving. I mention it to highlight your stance on the waste of time in attempting to unify our diversity - we should instead strive for unity in diversity.
      I believe that Satan laughs when we waste time or stifles the mission given by majoring in the minor and "....preach for doctrine commandments of men". God must be displeased when we try to build on His instructions to us which do not need our support. He has commissioned all of us to his work, and we instead, suppress it with some rules, caveats and procedures that are anti-progressive.

    • Your remark about mission reminded me of something I recently heard on
      Walla Walla University's "Good Word" broadcast one of the speakers said,
      "Theology divides but mission unites."

    • So why do we keep up this foolery of "unity in diversity"? It is political correctness pure and simple. In fact, I consider it satanic warfare on the remnant.
      Unity is only real in the expressions of fellowship and mission around commonly held interests and goals. Diversity (ethnic, political, status, gender) are all put aside or ignored for the singular purpose of mission to be Jesus' voice, hands and feet to save humanity

  2. Have you ever been through an experience (or know of someone who has) where you came close to losing everything that was important to your - or perhaps actually did lose it?

    For some people, after this passes, they soon return back to life as it was. But for others, such experiences become 'life changing'.

    I would propose that this is what the disciples experienced around the death of Jesus - a life changing experience. The Thursday night before and the Friday of Jesus death would have been 'unbearable' emotion and wondering for the disciples as it seemed that everything they had devoted their lives to had come crashing down.

    If you can relate to this, take a moment to think of this experience. In that space, some people step back and begin to rethink everything. I am sure Peter did this after his denial of Jesus. And it would appear that Judas did the same and came to the conclusion that there was no hope, no way out.

    And then Jesus reappears on Sunday - and the disciples again experience a return to hope and life. But it's not back to business as usual. Something has profoundly changed. They are changed by that experience. Having had everything seemingly stripped away, their priorities have changed. Self-interest somehow appears to have taken a back seat amid the pain and discouragement they went through. I believe it was going through this experience that enabled the changes observed between Luke 22:24 and Acts 1:14.

    Unfortunately, in a sin-infected world, where growth is going to happen, it more often than not involves first going through significant pain that shakes everything up and gets us to reassess our very foundation of security - our 'worldview'.

    Maybe this is what churches and people might have to go through in order to be more genuinely unified? I hope not, but history and human nature might suggest otherwise - as would the counsel to Laodicea regarding "gold tried in the fire" (along with other things) - Rev 3:18.

  3. I was watching a documentary of "the fire ants" and their amazing survival techniques. In their togetherness, they become indestructible. Not even a typhoon or flood can bring them down, when they unite. This got me thinking.

    This week's lesson has been so personal; a reflection that has re-energized my resolve towards mission. Just like in the days of "old"; God has put together a "constellation" of gifted persons to continue in mission, and reach out to a world in need of salvation. Some of whom, like I, were so "prodigal"; some filled with "covetousness"; some full of "doubt"; some full of "deceit"; some so "adulterous"; some with every sin possible; and even some with very little blemish; but all having a common realization that they needed the Lord and his forgiveness and salvation. It is from this point that we all need to pick up and go forth.

    Our different backgrounds represent a score of experiences, but at the same time a testimony of God's love and mercy picking us from the ruble of earthly ruins then recycling us back to use for mission. Yes! We might have come from "filthy rot", but we all found Christ, and that's where the difference is, and where we should begin from. In "one accord" we realize not the fault of our brothers or sisters; we realize not the make up of our brotherhood; we pay no attention to gender, race or creed; we provoke one another (Hebrews 10:24); and use the diversity amongst us as a stepping stone to propagate mission and zero-in on our love for God. Welcoming the Holy Spirit to steer our focus towards telling "on the mountains, over the hills and everywhere" that God is love, and has love for all of us without favoritism.

    The Bible has used interesting archs to show God's greatness. Judah and Tamar (Genesis 38); A pagan Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4); a noble Stephen (Acts 7:54 - 8:2); A persecuting Saul (Acts 9:1-31); and the greatest love of all, His only son Jesus Christ. These are just some, but we have many revelations of God's love and greatness in the Bible.

    As Adventist, we should endeavour not to spur spite, but represent the beauty of this "most convincing proof" that God's mission is to save humanity. Being set aside, we immediately then have a responsibility to all Nations as required in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) as well as to love one another bonded together in Christ; by Christ; and for Christ.

    We should neither be selfish or selective with this "most convincing truth", but we should share this to all with love, sensitivity, retionale, without judging, without bias but not undermining/compromising with fact or even context. As a church today, we need to talk from one page and realize that just like us who God saved, God is calling out to the rest of the world too.

    We should understand our diversity and talents to be a boost to mission. We cannot all be the same. At the same time, we also need to be around one another, understanding we all have weaknesses that we struggle with (Romans 7), and that we need to provide aegis to each other.


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