Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
United in God’s Hand: A Call for Unity for the Renewal of the Church
“....I will make them (the stick of Joseph and the stick of Judah) into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.” (19)
Ezekiel was both a prophet and a priest. Ezekiel’s name (‘God will strengthen’) itself was a sign of what God was going to do with his people and why. In chapter 37, there are two shattering visions – a valley of dry bones (a message of hope in the midst of powerlessness and hopelessness of his people) and two sticks united in God’s hand ( a message of unity – one nation under one shepherd- king ). When God commanded Ezekiel to hold two sticks together in his hand, it is a powerful expression of the fact that unity was God’s idea. Our task is not just to strive for unity but more importantly to exhibit it. Fast forward ourselves into the New Testament times, as part of the High Priestly Prayer, we see Jesus praying for this unity. Paul instructs us in Romans 14 to encourage diversity - not to judge others based on their food habits or, the rituals they follow. In Ephesians, he explains how Gentiles and Jews are united in Christ. “There is one body and one Spirit.....one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph 4: 4-6).
This shows clearly how Christ is in all and how he has broken down the barriers. In the days of Jesus, Judaism built a great wall of separation from Gentiles. And then one day, from an empty tomb, there arose a great wind of the Spirit that battered on the wall and leveled that wall to the dust. Later on, more such walls of separation came tumbling down before the power of Pentecost. But there are many men and women working hard to rebuild more such walls today with their religiosity of exclusion and privatization of spirituality. But let them hear what the Spirit of the Lord has to say. No one can tame that intractable wind of the Spirit. No dictator can curb it nor, circumscribe it.
A divided church is a fallen church, a dead church – a place for the ‘dry bones’ similar to what was depicted in Ezekiel’s story. A divided church is like a fire without its flame. The only thing, a divided church can do, as someone once said is ‘to keep the rumor of God alive’. In D.T Nile’s great definition, a divided church is all about ‘one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread’. That is not the mission of the church. Ezekiel’s vision reveals that unity is God’s priority and the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus has exemplified this truth.
Prayer: Lord, Fire of love, burn in us and burn evermore till we burn out for your glory. Amen.
Thought for the Day: “The Christian Church is the one organization in the world that exists purely for the benefit of non-members.” (Archbishop William Temple)
Sabu Jacob George, New Jersey MTC, Randolph