I've spoken in the past 5 months to 5 different Christian 'tribes': the Salvation Army officers of BC, the Alliance pastors of BC, the Vineyard pastors of Canada, the Mennonite Brethren pastors of BC, and the Pentecostal Assembly pastors of BC & the Yukon. By year's end, I'm scheduled to speak to the Baptist pastors of the Atlantic provinces, the Baptist pastors of the Western provinces, and the Presbyterian churches of Northern Ireland, and early next January to the Fellowship Baptists youth pastors of Canada.
Either the sky is falling or the Kingdom is at hand.
In the 30 or so years I've been a Christ-follower, I have never seen this kind of open rapport among denominations. I have vivid and quite recent memories of deep suspicion and unveiled disdain between the tribes, even just between varieties of Baptists. Now that's all fading to white. In the past 10 years, I've watched denominational walls tumble and denominational enmities dwindle.
God must smile.
What's more, it's hard to tell the difference anymore between the various groups. There are still the obvious markers: Salvation Army officer's distinctive indigo uniform with deep red epaulets, Pentecostal's habit of everyone praying simultaneously, Vineyard's love for multiple repetitions of choruses. But all in all, I keep meeting up with the same core theology of the cross and the Kingdom, the same desperate hunger for the Spirit to fall afresh, the same practical challenges to be in the world but not of it. Everyone desires to do God's mission in God's strength for God's glory. That has, I imagine, always been the case, but in the past we've let our minor differences loom larger than our common roots and our common cause, and so have diminished the mutual benefit we could be to each other. Less and less is that the case.
Something very close to God's heart is happening here. We are watching in real time the church be the answer to Jesus' prayer: "I pray that" all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you… I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (John 17:20-23).
I don't think Jesus meant organizational unity, which would be unwieldy and ineffective. He meant oneness of heart, regardless of our individual traditions.
It is an immense privilege that you and I get to live to see this. It is even more of a privilege that you and I are invited to join this: to "make every effort to keep the unity through the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3).
May the walls keep tumblin' down.
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