It’s another day. I’m another john. and this is another note.
I wrote a worship song that entails several lessons I’ve shared from the book of Ephesians recently. I had fun writing it, and it was a blessing to lead it during worship this weekend. The chorus says:
God has saved us and raised us.
We are one in the Lord.
Now, our glory is only
when we live as one.
There’s one part I struggled with for a bit. What is our glory?
What are we most proud of in our local congregations? Each of the seven churches I’ve served had a glory. For some, the glory was their history and tradition. For another, it was their fundraiser. I can hear committee meetings in one church that boasted of their various ministries.
And so on.
I understand being proud of such things, mostly.
But I’ve never had a church say they were proud of their unity. Now, that could be because it was an assumed quality. Maybe no one thought it was that big a deal. Perhaps they didn’t want to boast.
Pastoral ministry has taught me much about the church. One glaring lesson is that church unity has eternal implications. That makes it worth pursuing. More than we realize or appreciate. And I don’t mean we-get-along-and-most-people-like-each-other niceness. That’s great, but it can be, and most times is, superficial.
The unity I’m referring to has to do with the will of God and the connection we have as believers. How much does the will of God guide and direct what we do as a local congregation? In other words, how much do we glory in God’s will? And even people who despise each other can be nice. So, what distinguishes our attitudes and relationships with others in our churches?
The opening line of Psalm 125 is powerful: Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. It’s affirming for a child of God to consider themselves to be that mountain. I like to think my faith strengthens me. But what of the whole people of God? What does that say about us?
Following that verse, the psalmist says, “the Lord surrounds his people.” Our unity with God, then, is what strengthens us as God’s church. When we collectively submit to God’s power and grace we become like Mount Zion. Nothing moves our foundation as we trust in God’s provision and promise. We stand tall as God’s own, following God’s way.
When we live into that unity, we show God’s glory.
But there’s also the unity we share as the body of Christ: one body and one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father of all (Ephesians 4:5-6). When we learn to live into the unity God desires for the church, that’s our glory. That’s what we can be proud of. Even then, it’s not that we’re so great at what we do. It’s that God’s grace has finally transformed our hearts and minds. When that happens, our glory is only when we live as one with God and each other.