'Touched with Gold'
A Bible-based reflection on Christian Unity
By Callan Slipper, Ecumenical Facilitator of Churches Together in Hertfordshire
The unity Jesus prayed for the night before he died was something immense. It was nothing less than the life of God shared among human beings. The fourth Gospel shows Jesus praying, “The glory that you given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one” (John 17:22-23). Not only is this the kind of thing that would capture the attention of a troubled and weary world, responding to some of the deepest human longings, but it has the most amazing implications. It means that in Christian unity God, effectively and really, is present and active. Here and now God works upon, through and with those who are united. Unity makes God a direct actor in human history.
The struggle to reunite the divided church is more than an add-on to the serious work of being a Christian. It is central to establishing the rule of God. For relationships of unity between people are where God is found. Worship, especially the sacraments (however they are theologized for the majority who have them), personal prayer in the heart’s silence, the Bible all appear as doors onto God, doors wide open for God to come through and be with people. But they are all places or times set-aside specifically for this. Relationships of unity, on the other hand, are where God comes at any time and everywhere into the world. God is no longer separated, sometimes seemingly almost locked away. The Holy is not restricted to the sacred – either moments or places. Building genuine relationships of unity, within the churches and among the churches, is both the end that must be sought and the very thing that must be done to achieve that end. Without this everything else is diminished, because a church where God dwells through genuine unity, in the variety of its peoples and expressions and understandings and ways of doing things, is a church where everything is touched with gold, the gold of the living, effective presence of God.
This reflection is taken from 5 Steps to Living Christina Unity by Callan Slipper, p8/9. New City press 2013 www.newcitypress.com
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