Pictures of the Church

Pictures of the Church

"I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one-as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me." John 17:21 NLT

For the church to be the church, it must move into uncomfortable territory.

I've been in numerous churches. Older churches have common features. Constructed often of brick, they are rectangular with a steeple on top. Two or three straight rows grace the inside with a stage up front where the spiritual leader-along with the choir-sit and stand. Attached to the rectangular structure is one or more additional structures containing classrooms.

But not all churches look as the above. Some are circular and may have vinyl siding. Instead of pews, they might have chairs arranged in a half-moon shape. More and more, untraditional church structures are popping up-many in store fronts. Their outsides don't look like the churches of old.

The church, however, is more than a structure. It's composed of the people who belong to it. Those who attend regularly, use their gifts and talents, and serve in Christ's name in the community. Therein lies the rub. Getting us to do all of those things in a spirit of harmony.

Jesus must have known getting His followers to work together would be challenging. While else would He pray that we'd all be one even as He and the Father were? If His followers then and now don't work together in harmony, His name will be spoiled-and so will the testimony of the church.

I remember a church leader who said to me, "I want there to be one place I can go where they aren't." The "they" were African Americans. Martin Luther King, Jr., said eleven o'clock on Sunday morning was the most segregated hour of the week. He was right. Most churches are homogenous. We flock to our own kind-the same race, the same culture, the same social standing, the same…. You fill in the blank.

Jesus wants us to be one. He didn't create us to be separated or segregated. We are on the same journey with the same goal at the finish line. While Christ is probably proud of the great work His churches are doing, He would be prouder if we did it in a spirit of unity and togetherness. Doing so means moving out of our comfort zones, but doing so also moves us into God's will.

Be willing to unite with other Christians to carry out God's work. After all, we are all in this together.

Prayer: Father, unite Your people in a spirit of oneness as we carry out the great work You've given us to do.

Martin Wiles Hodges, South Carolina, USA

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