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Love & Unity - and Worship

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"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:35

"that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me." John 17:21

When I read Francis Schaeffer's little volume The Mark of the Christian, I was unprepared for the challenge it presented to me. I had read chapters 13 and 17 in the Gospel of John scores of times, but it seems my eyes took in the words without my mind taking in the whole message. I grew up singing, "they will know we are Christians by our love," and "we are one in the bond of love" - but again, the magnitude of the message escaped me, and the warm fuzzies I enjoyed as I sang "by our love, by our love" focused on how that wonderful Christian love benefitted me.

The Holy Spirit used Schaeffer's little book to burn the message of these familiar passages into my mind and to quicken my heart with a desire to live out the message in my attitudes and actions. I've come to understand that, while the love that believers share is vital and offers much to our benefit, there's more at stake than our mutual good. Jesus said that all people will know that we are His disciples by the way we love one another. Jesus prayed that we would be one so that the world would believe that He was sent from the Father. Our love for one another and our "oneness" prove to unbelievers that we follow Jesus and that He was sent by God the Father.

Our love for one another. Our unity. What do they have to do with worship? Sadly, worship is a battleground within many local churches and a category of competition among many churches. When thoughtful discussions about "worship" are lost to infighting, what does that say about the way we love one another? When generations within our churches are at odds over "worship," what does that say about the way we love one another? When our ugly words about the "worship style" of the church down the street reveal that we view them as our competition or our enemy, what does that say about the way we love one another? We undermine the love and unity that should be palpable when we gather and should be so beautifully compelling as to cause the world to pay attention. Love and unity - and worship. Much is at stake.

More on this topic in the coming weeks.

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