Isn’t it interesting how we interpret everything. For centuries (certainly since Gregory the Great) we have understood the Good News as Christ came so that we might be saved. His suffering, death and resurrection was so we might have eternal life. This is not wrong, but it is incomplete. It is only part of the story taken from the earliest years when mission work was so vital to the life of the Christian community. Mission work is still vital, as some realize, but since those early years this has been blown up in many minds and churches to where instead of part, it has become all of the story.
It isn’t all.
Read the letters of Paul. One of his big, major themes was unity. He did not mean uniformity. He meant unity among the believers: one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all…
Read this prayer of Jesus. Read what presses on his mind for us. Our salvation? Our eternal life? Our faith? Our doctrinal purity? No. It is, in his word, our oneness that matters. To be one with him and with each other as he is one with the Father. Where we fall short of this ideal is where we remain lost in sin.
Instead of talking about salvation and going to Heaven as opposed to that other place, perhaps we need to take a serious look at our disunity. The fact is we Christians all over the world are so divided we make a mockery of Jesus’ prayer. Or do we? Instead of talking about salvation and eternal life so much, perhaps we ought to talk about what sometimes seems the REAL purpose of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. We might honestly say the whole point of Christ coming, dying, resurrecting was so we might be one.
It seems to me that part of our brokenness (that some know as the result of sin) is our inability to be one. As with all things related to our healing, God needs to fix us from the inside-out. It is not God’s fault that we so often fight against him, “tooth and nail.”
Are you called by God? Have you been chosen by him to participate in his life? This is good, but really, what does it mean to be called? Surely it is not like a child being called to supper by mother. No, God’s call is through the Holy Spirit to our inner being, where we truly reside. Deep, deep down inside where we hardly know we live – though where we truly live – God calls to us. Deep, deep down where we do not question, where we often do not want to look, that is where God is reaching us from the inside-out. And that is where oneness resides.
As long as we focus on outward things and outward divisions, as long as we remain out of touch with the Holy Spirit that touches and resides in our deepest selves, oneness will always evade us.
What is eternal life, anyway? Eternal life is knowing God, and Jesus Christ the one sent. That is knowing. That is being intimate with. That is being one with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in all things.
In the seventeenth chapter of John, Jesus prays for several specific things: for safety and protection, for the joy of faith, for victory over the powers of darkness. But the main thing he prays for twice is unity, for oneness. For the disciples he prays, Protect them, so that they may be one, as we are one. Then, when he prays for the faithful in the future – for us – he asks, … that they may all be one.
Our oneness is not going to ever be found in doctrine or dogma. It will only be found in the person of Jesus Christ. It is in the glory of God. Not in the church or in the pews but between you and me and God… where two or three are gathered, there God is in the midst.