From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible places a great deal of importance upon relationships of all kinds: Family, Friends, Neighbors, Colleagues, and of course, Humanity and God. The emphasis is so strong that while our salvation is personal, the Word of God compels us to recognize that we are part of a larger family: the Family of God…the Body of Christ…the Community of Faith.
Today, we recognize not only our participation within the Global community of the Christian Faith, but we also celebrate this unique, Local Community of Faith here on Coolidge Avenue: Christian Cathedral, the Patten Academy of Christian Education, and the Patten Educational Foundation. For over seventy years, it has been the privilege of the Patten Community of Faith to share in the ministry of the Lord Jesus in the heart of this city.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a “Community” is “a unified body of individuals.” As you probably are aware, the word is a merging of the words “common” and “unity.” It is the unifying of individuals within a common framework, body, or fellowship. More than just principles and values (as important as they are), we are unified by a common Savior. We have met Jesus, and He is the unifying Principle, the cherished Value, and the Lead Person we follow.
In our Lord's Prayer recorded in John 17, Jesus prayed that The Father would bring us “…to complete unity.” Obviously, we can conclude that this is a deep desire of our Savior if the statement ended there, but it does not. Jesus had still another motivation for our unity. He continued His prayer by stating that our unity would “…let the world know that you [The Father] sent me [Jesus] and have loved them even as you have loved me.” The influence of the Church within the World is directly correlated to our willingness to walk in the Unity of the Spirit.
Loving someone who is lovable or liking someone who gets along with us is not a major accomplishment. Likewise, this is not something that is a testimony to the World, because even the Lost can do that. To love, however, the unlovable, the obnoxious, and the disagreeable is to love as Jesus loved and this is a testimony to the lost. This is the type of unconditional Love that marks a disciple of Jesus Christ.
John 13:34-35 NIV84 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Dr. Tobey Montgomery