Which Name? Desiring Unity for Christ’s Church by Brett Wilson

brett1I came across one of my old jerseys the other day that brought back a lot of memories from high school.  During that time in my life, I was a very avid soccer player and was dedicated to the sport.  I played under a great coach and gained a lot of experience as a four-year starter playing midfield.

As I looked over the jersey though, I was reminded that Northwest High School, during my junior year, made the decision to purchase new uniforms for the soccer team.  So, knowing that we would appreciate the recognition as would any high school student, my coach requested that the older jerseys be given to us with our last names printed on the back.  Uniquely, with the temptation to pad our personal stats (that I believe was perhaps inadvertently promoted by our jerseys), we refused personal glory.  Instead, our teamwork made it one of the most successful seasons we experienced as we competed for a SOC championship.

While I was reminiscing back to that time, God stopped me and began revealing how this same story is paralleled in His church.  I’m not talking about soccer, but as it refers to recognition and honor.  His questions to me were these, “Was I willing to forget the name on the back of my shirt so that I could play for His team?  Was I willing to allow His name to be more important than my own?”

For those of us who serve the church, we are usually quick to answer questions like these with your typical “I-have-my-act-together-and-I’m-perfect” response, but if you are truthful, you would probably acknowledge that your actions haven’t quite caught up with your words.  Needless to say, I was convicted and moved to repentance as I realized that far too many times I have lived for “the name on the back of my shirt” instead of working collaboratively for the sake of His Church.

brett2If I learned nothing else from that moment, I learned this one truth—The Church must repent of its’ division and refusal to work together.  Instead, the Church must embrace unity in order to live out its’ mission.

I suppose that John wrote it as simplistic as possible.  “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

Think with me for a second on this one.  Is it even possible for these two names—our own (driven by selfishness) and Jesus’—to co-exist?  I think far too often that our name or our church’s name has stood in the way of what Christ wanted accomplished.  I firmly believe that the only way that Christ’s name will increase is when local congregations agree that their name is less important than His.

Let me give you a series of questions for you to consider that may help you evaluate where you and your church stand:

  • Have you or your church recently served alongside (or with) another local church to help our community?  Have you taken the initiative to organize such a mission?
  • Do you or your church sometimes view local churches as competition as opposed to partners?
  • Have you ever talked negatively about other local congregations, either from the pulpit or in everyday conversation?

I know on the soccer field that a team that doesn’t work together displays minimal impact.  Paul realized this same truth when he wrote to the church at Corinth.

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10)

The encouraging word is that when teammates strategize together, communicate effectively on the field and move the ball by using every member of the team, great things happen.  My prayer is the same for the Church.

So here are a couple practical steps that I would ask you consider joining me in doing:

First, would you commit to pray 20 minutes each day for the churches in southern Ohio?

Second, would you begin making connections with area pastors to initiate and organize service opportunities?

The Church has a large work ahead that can only be accomplished, to the full extent, through the cooperative efforts of local congregations.  Let’s help bring unity to the body of Christ!

Brett Wilson is the director at Mt. Hope Bible Camp in Otway, Ohio along with his wife Sarah. Brett and Sarah attend and serve at Hills Chapel Church, also in Otway.

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