This article is outside of the norm for this blog of mine. I typically share recipes, travel ideas, and TV show recommendations. I am not a Biblical scholar, by any means, but I felt inspired to write the following, so I am doing so!
This morning I read an article (and watched a video) of John MacArthur speaking critically about Beth Moore. Although a bit unsettling, the part that really made me nauseous was reading the comments. Just like I can’t keep my eyes from staring at a train wreck, I simply HAD to read the numerous comments publicly defending one or the other, many comments involving spewing of hate and disgust for those who dared to disagree with that particular person’s opinion.
I am not here to defend John MacArthur OR Beth Moore. Rather, it is no small paradox that just a few moments later, I found myself reading John 17.
(I’m going to do something that a writer should never do. I am going to tell you to step away from MY article right this minute, whether you are on your phone or your computer, and go read John 17, specifically verses 11-26.)
Did you read it? Yes?!?! Awesome.
John 17 is comprised entirely of a prayer that Jesus himself is praying to the Father. It is a beautiful plea for God’s glory to be manifested in Himself and for God’s protection and unity for His followers. This prayer comes just before Jesus’s arrest and, ultimately, his crucifixion and death.
I could not help but notice that the plea Jesus most earnestly prayed in one of his last prayers on Earth was that his followers would be ONE, just as he and the Father himself are ONE. This was so important to Jesus, that he repeated this request FOUR times.
- John 17:11 :: “And I am no longer in this world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” (ESV, emphasis mine)
- John 17: 20-21 :: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have send me.” (ESV, emphasis mine)
- John 17: 22 :: “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one.”
- John 17: 23 :: “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
Reading this chapter was not a coincidence for me this morning and it isn’t a coincidence for you either. This portion of scripture did not come to my mind as I was wading through my conflicting feelings about what I was seeing on display among Christians in our culture. I happened to read it somewhat haphazardly as part of a Bible study I am doing. But after reading it (like so many other times that the Word has convicted me), I knew that this was no mere coincidence.
Jesus felt so strongly about His followers being unified that he prayed it FOUR times just before his death. But He didn’t just want us to hold hands and ignorantly sing Kumbaya, He pleaded with God that we would be ONE just as He and the Father are one.
If unity was this important to Jesus that He literally BEGGED God for it as one of His last prayers on earth, shouldn’t unity be just as important to us?
The followers of Christ as so divided in our world today that we are unable to fulfill verse 23. We cannot proclaim to the world that Jesus was sent by God and that God loves us just as He loved Jesus because we are too busy pointing out where our fellow brother or sister is wrong in their interpretation of Biblical doctrine.
The point of this post is not whether John MacArthur (or Beth Moore) is right or wrong. The point is not whether women should preach (although I encourage you to do your own thorough study of all doctrinal matters keeping in mind the inerrant and infallible word of God). The point is that when Christians are united, we are proclaiming Jesus to the world. When we are publicly divided, the Enemy is winning.
The thing that sickened me the most this morning was reading the comments of individual Christians personally spewing hatred at one another because of their disagreement and/or alliance with one religious leader or another. And this isn’t an isolated incident. Nearly every day I see Christians attacking each other on social media because of disagreements in politics, entertainment, books, caring for the environment, or any number of issues.
The world is watching how we treat each other.
Romans 14 talks a lot about “disputable matters” (a sermon series our preacher recently concluded). Whether or not you believe this issue (or any other Biblical issue) is “disputable” is between you and the conviction of the Holy Spirit as you read the word of God. But regardless, commenting with hatred towards a fellow Christian does not show the broken world that we are ONE just as Christ and the Father are One. It shows the world that we are divisive and quick to accuse one another. There is a Biblical way to confront someone who you believe is teaching false doctrine (Acts 18: 24-28, Matthew 18:15-17). But arguing over social media is not the answer.
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” -Romans 14: 19