Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Unity in Diversity

Tonight, I want to thank you for a message you carry that the church here desperately needs.

Many of you have related stories to me of how, when you get on the field, you work together across denominations, ages, races - as one body ... the way Jesus intended when He prayed in John 17 that we would be one. I've heard tales of how your very different structures and backgrounds becomes the most significant elements - how God uses it all and it really doesn't matter who or how, because it's about Him and not you.

I want to thank you for that, and ask you to please bring that message and those stories back when you come home for furloughs. When you share in churches and small groups, let them hear about those weekly worship services that cross boundaries. Let them see the unity in diversity that God designed - how you don't conform and change anything about who you or your agencies are, but there is a transcendent unity that makes the diversity even more meaningful.

I can't tell you how much we need that message. The world has co-opted the message of diversity, and the church here is afraid of the word. Unity is spoken of but rarely practiced, as denominational battles make churches retreat to their own corners. Few pastors pray together across denominational lines, and even fewer visit other denominations churches. Interdenominational efforts are limited to once a year and rarely for anything significant.

Yet there are lights in the darkness. The campus ministers in our town have found a unity that transcends diversity, but appreciate each others' diversity. A small town in the area also has a unity so profound that pastors of different denominations preach in each others' churches.

We don't have to be afraid - truth will always prevail. You know more about what is major and what is minor than we do ... and tonight I am especially grateful. This isn't as much about you as it is about us - but I hope you are encouraged to know that we realize how much we need you.

May you be blessed as you hang in there together!

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