By Jim Whiteman
“If I have two pizzas, each cut into eight slices, and there are six hungry fourth graders, how many slices would each one get?” The answer could be 2 with 4 left over. Or perhaps 2 2/3. But in real life, questions need to be asked. Does it matter if the hungry students are in the hallway and the pizzas are in the staff room? What if a student is hungry but allergic to gluten or tomato? What if only 4 students paid for pizza? What if there are also starving fifth graders? The real world is always more complex than the textbook.
Divided. It seems there is a shouting match that is getting louder and uglier throughout the world. We witness it between nations, political parties, ethnicities and any two groups with differing perspectives. The shouting and blaming can be heard on social media, seen on television, experienced in neighborhoods and even creep into our own families. Proverbs 18:2 states: A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, only in expressing his own opinion. Fools abound! (Well, at least that is my opinion)
Good news! There is one large family spread throughout most of the world that has the answer to ugly division. Yet, even they often seem to glare at each other with distrust. “It is one of the most humiliating things in the present day to see how God’s family is divided up. If we love the Lord Jesus Christ the burden of our hearts will be that God may bring us closer together, so that we may love one another and rise above all party feeling. “ So wrote D.L Moody in 1941 in his book titled Prevailing Prayer. He goes on:
“Oh, may God make us of one heart and of one mind! Let our hearts be like drops of water flowing together. Unity among the people of God is a sort of foretaste of heaven. There we shall not find any Baptists, or Methodists, or Congregationalists, or Episcopalians;” We shall all be one in Christ. We leave all our party names behind us when we leave this earth. Oh, that the Spirit of God may speedily sweep away all these miserable walls that we have been building up! Did you ever notice that the last prayer Jesus Christ made on earth, before they led Him away to Calvary, was that His disciples might all be one? He could look down the stream of time, and see that divisions would come—how Satan would try to divide the flock of God. Nothing will silence infidels so quickly as Christians everywhere being united. Then our testimony will have weight with the ungodly and the careless. But when they see how Christians are divided, they will not believe their testimony. The Holy Spirit is grieved; and there is little power where there is no unity. If I thought I had one drop of sectarian blood in my veins, I would let it out before I went to bed; if I had one sectarian hair in my head, I would pull it out. Let us get right to the heart of Jesus Christ; then our prayers will be acceptable to God, and showers of blessings will descend.”
I am grateful that our students at WCA represent over 40 churches and are taught to listen, ask questions, reason together, and pray for one another. Differing ideas provide tools for growth, understanding, and the development of wisdom. The prophet writes: “Come let us reason together, says the Lord.” (Is 1:18a) While praying for his disciples, Jesus pleads: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 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 sent me.” (John 17:20-21)
Multiplying. The key for expanding the family of the King and doing his intended work is unity among his children. Praying with and for one another, working side-by-side with common goals, seeking understanding. This is not a call for ecumenicalism whereby disparate doctrines are embraced, but striving for unity as loving siblings. Those of us in Christ all share a commitment to the central message of the Word of God and must not compromise on primary doctrinal positions. As we hold secondary doctrines that are specific to our particular church or denomination and which may differ from doctrines held by other churches or denominations, we are wise to adhere to the following statement by the seventeenth century German theologian Rupertus Meldenius: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things charity.”
Together in Christ: One mind, one voice, one purpose. This is our theme for the year across the grades at WCA based on Paul’s exhortation in his letter to the Romans, May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward one another that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may give praise to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you in order to bring praise to God. (Rom 15:5-7 NIV).
Would you join us in praying to this end?
May our children not grow up demanding their portion of the pizza without seeking to understand the real problem.