Love of Unity
“That they all may be one.” (John 17:21)
Surely there is nothing for which Christian churches have such cause to hang their harps on the willows, as the extent to which the Shibboleth (see Jug. 12:6) of sectarianism is heard in the camp of the faithful — sectarianism rearing its untempered walls within the Temple gates!
How different the mind of Jesus! Sent “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt. 15:24), He was never found disowning other sheep not of that fold. “Them also will I bring” (Jn. 10:16), was an assertion continually illustrated by His deeds. Take one example: The woman of Samaria revealed what, alas! is too common in the world — a total absence of all real religion, along with an ardent zeal for her sect. She was living in open sin, yet she was all alive to the nice distinction between a Jew and a Samaritan — between Mount Gerizim and Mount Zion: “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, who am a woman of Samaria?” (Jn. 4:9). Did Jesus sanction or reciprocate her sectarianism? Did He leave her bigotry unrebuked? Hear his reply: “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee” (Jn. 4:10). He would have allowed no such narrow-minded exclusiveness to have interfered with the interchange of kindly civilities with a stranger. No, He would have given you, better than all, the “living water” which “springeth up to everlasting life” (Jn. 4:14).
How sad, that when the enemy is “coming in like a flood” (Isa. 59:19) — the ranks of apostasy and infidelity linked in fatal and formidable confederacy — that the soldiers of Christ are forced to meet the assault with standards soiled and mutilated by internal feuds! “Uniformity” there may not be, but “unity,” in the true sense of the word, there ought to be. We may be clad in different garments, but let us stand side by side, and rank by rank, fighting the battles of our Lord. We may be different branches of the seven golden candlesticks, varying and diversified in outward form and workmanship, but let us combine in “showing forth the praises of him” (1 Pet. 2:9) who recognizes, as the one true “churchmanship,” fidelity in shining for his glory “as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15). How can we read the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians, and then think of our divisions? “How miserable,” says Edward Bickersteth (1825-1906), “would an hospital be, if each patient were to be so offended with his neighbor’s disease, as to differ with him on account of it, instead of trying to alleviate it!”
Ah, if we had more real communion with our Savior, should we not have more real communion with one another? If Christians would dip their arrows more in “the balm of Gilead,” would there not be fewer wounds in the body of Christ? "How that word toleration is used amongst us,” said one who drank deeper than most, of his Master’s spirit. “How we tolerate one another; Dissenters tolerate Churchmen, and Churchmen tolerate Dissenters! Oh! Hateful word! TOLERATE one for whom Jesus died! Tolerate one whom He bears upon His heart! Tolerate a temple of the living God! Oh! There ought to be that in the word which should make us feel ashamed before God!”
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