Divided to United
I’ve been struggling recently to put my finger on what the Lord was saying to the Church about unity and reconciliation. Sure, we need messages on these topics, but I was looking for more. I felt the Lord was saying and doing so much more.
A few months earlier I was visiting a church whose address is Confederate Avenue when I heard these words prayed, “As this church sits on Confederate Avenue, I ask Father that you would use this church to be a beacon of hope and a messenger of reconciliation. Release it, I pray, in Jesus’ name!”
It would only be a few weeks later that Pastor Arthur Breland, a dear friend, and brother, would call and say, “The Atlanta City Council voted to change the name of the street from Confederate Ave. to United Ave.” We agreed in that moment, that this was a prophetic harbinger. It was a clear message to the Church, not just in Atlanta, but beyond.
The Church Must Intersect and Become One
It later came to my attention that United Ave. intersects with Atlanta Ave., and the two become one. “Electric” is the only way to describe how it hit me. The words evaded me, until I stood in the historic neighborhood, at that very intersection. THE CHURCH MUST INTERSECT AND BECOME ONE. I heard it clear as day. The white church. The black church. The Hispanic church. The Asian church. The rich church. The poor church. The Baptist Church. The charismatic church. The Anglican Church. The Presbyterian Church. The right wing and the left. The Church must intersect, and she must become one.
Unprecedented & Glorious
We are living in unprecedented times. Yes, there is great evil, division, and hardship. Yes, I acknowledge, the Church has never been more segmented and separated than the present. Yes, I too acknowledge the apathy and sin of our past is playing out in present discourse.
However, these are also glorious times. Never in the history of the American Church has the message of unity and oneness been so prevalent and present. There appears to be a great desire among church leaders to stand in solidarity. In these dark times, it is an opportunity for the Church to shine the brightest. It is in perilous times such as these that the radiant beauty of the bride of Christ could and should be seen. What’s the holdup?
A New Trajectory: Oneness
2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
For too long we’ve stood in our own corners, while Jesus beckons us onward to be one. We must commit to this idea of Oneness. Oneness is not sameness. Oneness is not assimilation. Oneness isn’t ignoring the past or subscribing to a political party. No!
Oneness is so much more. Oneness is the commitment to contend together for unity among the brethren. It’s the quest to embody the relationship between the Father, Son, and Spirit. It’s this idea that we would cleave to one another in love with a deep commitment toward the future. Philippians 2:1-2 outlines the 4 key areas that we must strive to be one in:
- One Mind – We must agree about the pursuit
- One Love – We must commit to love each other well
- One Spirit – The Holy Spirit must be central to our pursuit
- One Mission – Our goal must be the pleasure and heart of Jesus
I can’t stress enough that oneness isn’t a betrayal to oneself or respective culture. So often the expectation is that one party would leave behind their culture and join the other, never to visit or mention it again. Friends, that is flat out wrong! No, it is to operate with consideration, honor, and dignity for all parties involved. It is this idea espoused later in Philippians, that we should consider each other more highly than ourselves. We have a long, yet joyous journey ahead.
Josh Clemons is an adjunct professor at Oral Roberts University, where he received his Master of Divinity in Biblical Studies, and is Co-Director of the OneRace Movement, which exists to displace the spirit of racism and release a movement of racial reconciliation across the nation. On August 25, 2019, it will host a Day of Remembrance to mark the 400th anniversary since the first slave ship docked in Jamestown, believing this season of remembrance can act as a healing balm to the racial wound of our nation, furthering spiritual renewal. Josh resides in Atlanta with his wife Lakisha, and their sons Langston and Ellington.