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Unity and Division in the Church Part 1 - Unity

In the mid-1980’s, three men were appointed as leaders of a tiny Christian fellowship in a middle-eastern country. They could not have been more different from each other. Hanwoo was a Pentecostal from Korea. He strongly believed in the submission to and movement of and through the Spirit of God; so much so that he refused to prepare for Sunday sermons so as not to quench the Spirit. Julian was from England and had a charismatic background. As such, he held to the use of tongues, the importance of experiencing God and the exercise of all the spiritual gifts. He did not however hold to some of Hanwoo’s more extreme positions like instant healing or direction of the Spirit in all things. Then there was Steve, a fundamentalist from New England in the United States of America. While he had a vibrant walk with Christ, he could be designated as one of the “frozen chosen.” He tended towards cessationism and did not like emotional engagement in his worship. For him, Scripture was first and experience came as a distant second or third. He tended towards a more reformed and cerebral view of the Christian life. In addition to this, Hanwoo spoke no English, so all of the church business had to be transacted in the local language, making things even more difficult for both Julian and Steve for whom English was the primary language. And yet, and yet these three very different men labored together for the foundation of one of the most effective fellowships in that country. Beyond that, they became friends who love and respect each other deeply. They evidenced a biblical unity that I have not encountered anywhere else so far. What was their secret? Let’s consider that together.

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Pondering the Master

Shortly before a spiritually very rough time, I was asked to preach on Peter walking on the water (Mt. 14:22-36; Mk. 6:45-56; Jn. 6:14-21). As the disciples were obeying Jesus, they were blown off course by the storm. Fine, that happens. But what really stuck with me was that Jesus, seeing their distress, miraculously came to them and comforted them with his voice and his presence. About this same time, I was introduced to Leeland’s album Invisible (Bethel Music, 2016). The title track of the album talks exactly about this, stating in the chorus:

I see you standing in the wind and waves
I’m never alone
You’re not invisible

Over this last month this song especially (and the album as a whole) kept bringing me back to this: in this storm, Jesus is there, even though I may not be able to see him. He is there. He is there. Repeating this over again while struggling with feelings of anger, inadequacy and disappointment, while hurting deeply is one thing that made me ready to receive the reproof necessary to come back to a more balanced space. Jesus climbed into my boat at the right time, because he came to me. And despite the howling wind and crashing waves, I heard him call, “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Mt. 14:27 – HCSB). And that was enough.

Image Credit: Never Forsaken by Abraham Hunter

From Wolfhawke’s Reading List

Steven R. Lawhead

New York: Avon Books, 1999.

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