We Were Just One
Saturday - March 5th
Scripture to Read Today: Ephesians 4:1-6
How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!
Hitler ordered all religious groups to unify during World War II so that he could control them. Half of the Brethren congregations complied, while the other half rejected Hitler's order. Those that obeyed had a much easier experience. Those who did not do so were subjected to severe punishment. Someone died in a concentration camp in practically every family of those who defied Hitler.
When the conflict ended, there was a lot of resentment between the factions. Unresolved and unspoken tension existed whenever the Brethren pastors gathered. They eventually concluded that the matter needed to be resolved. Each group's leaders gathered at a peaceful retreat. Everyone spent many days in prayer, analyzing their own heart in light of Christ's commands. They came together after that.
"What did you do then?" Francis Schaeffer, who related the story, asked a friend who had been present at the gathering. He said, "We were just one." The Holy Spirit generated a spirit of oneness among them as they acknowledged their hostility and bitterness to God and bowed to His lordship. Their hearts were filled with love, which dispelled their hatred.
These pastors fulfilled Paul's call in Ephesians 4:3 to "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." They lingered in the Lord's presence seeking His grace and healing individually, which opened the door for Him to work in them collectively. They truly approached each other with the humility, gentleness, patience, and loving tolerance Paul had encouraged. Giving each other time, space, and grace to be reminded of who they were before God allowed them to extend forgiveness and reconciliation with each other.
Sometimes we confess our sins to one another. Sometimes we confront a brother or sister in Christ regarding their sin. The Apostle Peter even taught that there are even times we simply cover the sin of others in love. "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8).
Perhaps it is time for you to allow love to care for the tension or brokenness between you and another follower of Christ. Maybe it is time to extend forgiveness and find a way forward in unity. We can all learn from the process of reconciliation experienced by the German Brethren churches after World War II.
Sometimes the way to express how healing occurs and unity is restored among Christians is: "We were just one!"