By Dimitris Pelidis


As we once again gather together to celebrate the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, let us reflect on the divine purpose of his coming into the world.

The last prayer of our Lord Jesus epitomizes very dramatically his mission on earth. As we read through it, we cannot easily bypass nor close our ears to his impassioned cry for unity. See how earnestly he pleads with the Father for unity!

John 17:11, 20-23:
And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

As Jesus prays, the word “ONE” pours out time and time again. Surely a cry for divine oneness!

There was a time when God and man enjoyed this perfect unity in the Garden of Eden and the bliss of walking together in the cool of the day. Yet, if paradise was a place of blessed oneness with God it soon gave way to the hell of separation and estrangement from him. How craftily did Satan beguile Eve and how tragically did she and Adam fall prey to his cunning lies. Sin and guilt entered, separation and fear followed, cursing was unleashed, darkness descended and death ruled (see Genesis 3:1-24). A single verse of Scripture portrays man’s plight in the darkest of colours:

Isaiah 53:6:
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

If it hadn’t been for the Lord bearing the cross of our iniquity, we would forever be lost, without God and without hope in the world. A short while before his crucifixion, we see Jesus not in the idyllic Garden of Eden but in the garden of pressure called Gethsemane agonizing intensely in prayer. Yet his love was too deep for him to go back on God’s will. He chose to lay down his life for us all, saying, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will but thine be done” (Lk. 22:42).

While Adam’s disobedience resulted in universal death, Jesus Christ’s obedience opened to the door to eternal life for all. He drank the bitter cup of the crucifixion and cried out from the depths of his soul, “It is finished.” He finished the work of salvation. His precious blood streaming down from the cross made atonement for sin and reconciliation possible for all.

1 Peter 2:25:
For we were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls.

Look at this lovely portrait of God’s flock gathered again in his fold after the Holy Spirit was poured out on them on the day of Pentecost.

Acts 2:44, 46-47:
And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

48 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God and having favour with all the people.

Isn’t that a beautiful picture of togetherness, oneness of purpose and singleness of heart among God’s people? Doesn’t that qualify as a state of perfect harmony, as heaven on earth?

In such a place of brotherly togetherness and unity will God appoint the blessing to his people.

Psalm 133:1, 3b:
Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
3 ... For there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life forevermore.

Only As We Stand United Will the Lord Bless Us!

There is tremendous power in unity and agreement. As the Lord Jesus stressed, “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 18:19). How much power is given to only two who stand in agreement! Imagine the immensity of power if the entire Church would come to agree.

The enemy of our soul, the devil, is fully aware of this and has been craftily conspiring ever since the foundation of the Church to divide us. He knows that if he achieves this, he will rob us of our blessing; he will disarm and overcome us. In fact, when Jesus was slandered as Beelzebub, he answered by making this very point.

Matthew 12:25:
Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: and if Satan cast out Satan he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand.

While the devil is smart enough to avoid division and self-destruction, he himself orchestrates the continuous dividing of the Church in order to rob her of her blessing and power. He managed to steal the blessing from Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. He is fighting with all his vengeance to snatch the blessing from the Church today.

The embarrassing thing is that there is nothing original in his tactics. Just like he did in Paradise, he will divert our attention from the source of life, God, and turn it upon ourselves. He will crown man and endeavour to dethrone God.

In the Church today this is evident in how ministries are getting more credit than Jesus Christ who was crucified for us. It happened in the Corinthian church and it is still going on in our days. Men, even men of God, are receiving the worship that is due only to God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Notice what Paul had to say to the Corinthian believers who were following men rather than the Lord Jesus.

1 Corinthians 1:12-13:
Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

Paul, being aware of the enemy’s devices, wrote to the Corinthian church that he “determined not to know any thing among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Understanding man’s tendency to worship men, he also wrote:

1 Corinthians 3:5-8a, 9:
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one....
9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.

The Building Is ONE, and it is God’s, Not Man’s

No ministry is greater than God. No church is more important than its head, the Lord Jesus Christ. No individual member of the Body of Christ is better than any other member of that same body.

So why are we allowing this cutting up of the Body of Christ to continue? Can’t we see that we are turning against ourselves and actually becoming suicidal? Why are we permitting so much suspicion to brood within the ranks of the Church from one group against another, from one brother against another? Is it because of our need to maintain our dogmas, rites and creeds? And while it is vital to guard against heresies, should we not also guard against unloving segregation? After all, isn’t brotherly love still the Royal Law? Isn’t it still the badge by which Christians should be known and recognised? Why also are we harbouring feelings of resentment, animosity and bitter jealousy against our brother or sister? Is his sin greater than God’s love?

As the Bible so strongly exhorts, let us strive for unity for only through it are we blessed and powerful.

1 Corinthians 1:10:
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement.

Ephesians 4:1-3:
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

There is a magnificent record in the book of 1 Kings that I feel is a fitting conclusion to this plea for unity. Although it is primarily quoted to illustrate Solomon’s wisdom there is also a wealth of wisdom to be drawn for the benefit of the church today.

Here was the dilemma: Two women each had given birth. One of the mothers accidently killed her baby in her sleep. Now there was only one baby alive whom both mothers claimed as their own. Who was the true mother of the baby? Here was the test: Solomon ordered his men to divide the baby. One mother voiced her approval while the other mother begged the king to spare her baby’s life -- even if that meant he would go to the other mother. Solomon immediately recognized the second mother as the true mother of the child and gave her the child.

There is a beautiful parallel in this story related to our love for God and his church. If we are genuine Christians with the heart of a true father or mother, we will sacrifice any rights, claims or privileges in order that the Church of God remain intact. Just like the true mother, we would rather allow the Church to live on than divide it in pieces, even if that meant that it would go to somebody else.

Brothers and sisters, allow the Church to live united. Let it grow strong and prevail over all the forces of darkness. Meditate on this as you commemorate the birth of baby Jesus in Bethlehem.



From the December 2003 issue of The Vine & Branches