As Jesus was walking down the road with this apostles, they argued among themselves as to who was the greatest. Jesus listened. It was later that he questioned them regarding what they were talking about. It was not a question to extract an answer, but to help them see. His question was supposed to make them think.
I have often thought about the 12 apostles. They were the main members of “Jesus’ church.” I think back to when I had a small church of about 20 people and how often there were little subtle differences between them. My experience was similar to that of Jesus.
After 3 years of quality teaching, effort and much prayer, Jesus had a church of about 120 people who didn’t easily get along with each other. I had found the same thing in my own church. Quality teaching, hard work, and prayer, are not all of the ingredients required to built unity, and that is why church unity movements on their own don’t work.
In our sinful condition each person considers himself better than others, we put ourselves first, and think our way of thinking and acting is right. There can never be unity of the spirit when this exists. What is required is a move of God in the midst of the people, and the giving of the heart to one another.
Around the world today there are many movements of ecumenism. The idea is good. However, they don’t ever really capture what is meant to be obtained, because it needs more than what is able to be given or offered. What is needed is the giving of the heart between people. And that can only be done through the help and the power of the Holy Spirit. Something spiritual has to happen between people for there to be unity between them.
The kind of relationship we see in the Scriptures between Jonathan and David is not natural. Even husbands and wives all over the globe struggle to serve and love each other as instructed. In fact the best marriages can take a lifetime to build.
As a Church – that is God’s people – the mix of relationships, people, cultures, beliefs, attitudes, and values is complex. To try to work hard to build people together with ecumenical strategies, and church unity movements will never be enough. More is needed, and that is something that is given by the Holy Spirit. We can never become of one heart and mind without something extra being added.
We shouldn’t despise Church Unity movements and ecumenism. It is good when we see the desire for unity, and people who love Christ attempting to bring it about. We don’t do away with that, but we add to it and see what becomes of our prayers and faith and love.