by John Hall
Through advances in technology, we can view the whole earth from space. All of humanity on one twirling ball in an immeasurable universe. You would think that would be humbling enough to unify people, but no. Humanity behaves as if small bits of territory and ideology have ultimate significance. Instead of working together for the betterment of our obviously intertwined existence, we strive to own and control resources and knowledge that might impute power.
Often biblical writers ask the question, “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?” (Ps. 2:1) The answer goes back to the fall. Sin has broken humanity’s connection to the only true source of life – God. Physical decay is a constant reminder that time is against us. In response, we struggle and strive for a glimmer, a token of something to give our lives meaning and security, only to find ourselves plagued by disharmony and disunity.
Christians understand the solution to the fragmentation and disunity that humanity experiences as reconciliation with God. Jesus’ mission was to redeem and reconcile all creation to God, and, through his blood and the indwelling of the Spirit, to make us one with God. We received a restored relationship with our creator, and reconciliation reconnects us to the ultimate source of life. In other words, without reconciliation, there is no life. As 1 Corinthians 15:28 says, “When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will [also] be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.”
If we turn unity around and get a different perspective on it, we can see that our understanding of unity rests on the oneness of God. Jesus puts this into words in John 17:20-23:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Jesus’ prayer reveals that believers have the incredible privilege to be invited into union with our God who is three in one. The oneness of the Trinity is the basis of our unity as the people of God.
Reflecting on the trinitarian unity and our union with Christ, Ross Hastings says, “having been brought into union with the one person who epitomized true personhood and humanity, and having been brought into communion with the triune God, they can, yes, be assured of justification and eternal life in Christ, but much more to the core of Christian soteriology, recover in the fullest way the dignity of human personhood, a personhood that as with the Trinity is defined by community with the other (God), characterized by love of God and neighbour and creation. This is the recovery of the “human being fully alive,” which reflects the glory of God.” (Ross Hastings, Missional God, Missional Church)
Of course, it is a process to be a “human being fully alive”. But only those on this journey can play their part in the missional prayer of Jesus in John 17:23 – proclaiming through our union with God and with each other, through word and deed, that we are loved and are being reconciled with God. It’s only when we begin to understand and experience union with Jesus that we can take on Jesus’ mantle and be sent in the way that the Father sent Jesus (John 20:21). Through our union, we take not only a message of hope, but a message filled with the power to break the chains of sin and the destruction that Satan seeks to wreak on the world.
Starting this fall, we’ll dive into why unity matters, and share thoughts on what it could look like. You’ll notice that we’ve created a logo to represent the theme, an ancient symbol representing the union of the Trinity. We’ll publish articles focusing on the biblical foundations of unity and how it can be expressed. And we’ll offer devotionals inviting each of you and your communities to consider how God is calling us all to go deeper into unity with him and with each other.
Mission Central has always valued unity. From our start as Missions Fest Vancouver, our goal has been to live out unity in practical ways for the sake of the Gospel, bringing churches together across denominations and cities, based on our common commitment to mission. Now, in our last year, our goal is to ignite a renewed vision and passion for unity among the people of God. We invite you, and all who love Jesus, to join us on this journey of discovery and hope.