What a rich and wonderful week of Easter worship we enjoyed as a church. In particular it was good to join with our next door neighbours, the Melbourne Chinese Baptist Church, to worship together on Good Friday. I have a very strong commitment to inter-church relationships as I believe it is at the heart of what God desires for the church and the world. In the Gospel of John, we have a record of Jesus’ prayer where he asks that his followers would be one and that they “may be brought to complete unity.” The fruit of Christian unity is that the message of Jesus will be seen and understood by others, says Jesus: “Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
But to be honest, at times over the years I have been discouraged at just how inward -looking and insular churches can be. It shouldn’t take so much time and effort to get congregations to work together as it sometimes does. My prayer is that we continue to see our church work with other local churches in sharing the good news of God’s love for the world.
When we look at our world we see that a message of unity and peace is desperately needed. And Jesus provides such a message which offers peace to the individual person and in turn the opportunity of peace between one another. And I believe that only Jesus offers true peace. His message was not given by the sword and can never be shared by violent means. Jesus gave his life in sacrifice for humanity out of love. His forgiveness of our sins enables us to have peace with God; and our forgiveness of each other enables us to have peace in our relationships. And in a world that will be
increasingly religious and less secular and atheist, Christians must not only proclaim Jesus’ peace but live it out among ourselves.
The influential and respected global research organisation, the Pew Forum, has this week released a report stating that by around 2050:
- The number of Muslims will equal the number of Christians around the world.
- Atheists, agnostics and other people who do not affiliate with any religion…will make up a declining share of the world’s total population.
- Four out of every 10 Christians in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa
Faith will play a part in the future of the world; but whether it will be divisive or healing is another question. The calling of our church, indeed every church, is to believe and live out the good news of Jesus in our own lives, and show to others the unity, peace and love that are available to us from God. Remember what Jesus said: “Love one another: By this will everyone know that you are my disciples, if you have love for each other.” Because in the end, God wants to show his love to the whole world, and the church is the vehicle he has chosen to do this.
Love and blessings,