The ideal answer to the Lord's prayer for the unity of believers (John 17) would be to drop every human division, sectarian creed, name, dogma, etc., and to assemble worldwide as the church, the Body of Christ, acknowledging Him as our Lord, commissioned and determined to do His will and His work in the world until His return. And our prayer along with His, as well as our teaching, ought always to be that this blessed unity in the bond of peace will one day come about. But while we wait and live in a divided world, it is comforting to consider that there is a spiritual dimension to unity that supersedes and makes less important the physical and obvious separation that exists in the here and now. There may be a great deal more spiritual unity present than meets the eye. Our Lord knows the true membership of His church. He knows His sheep by name, and they hear and recognize His voice over the tumult, and they follow Him. Wherever we are, God reads our hearts and recognizes us as His children--or else He disavows us. This heart-reading ability belongs only to the Lord Himself. No mere mortal can read another's heart.
Since it is humanly impossible to affect the physical unity of believers, it behooves us to make sure we are spiritually united with Christ and the sheep of His fold.
The truths illustrated in the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:24-30) seem applicable here. When the servants suggested to the householder that the tares sowed in the wheat fields by an enemy ought to be removed, his answer was to let them grow together until harvest time--that they would then be separated and dealt with appropriately.
We would do well to continue to pray earnestly for the physical unity of believers, but not to waste our substance decrying the divisions among us or trying to force change. That is in the Spirit's realm. Nor must we allow ourselves to become bitter toward each other over it. That is also a serious violation of the Spirit of Christ. The Lord knows where His sheep are, and they recognize His voice. Our steady prayer for the ability to discern between good and evil and to try the spirits to see if they are of God and not to listen to the voice of a stranger (or a strange doctrine) will protect us in a higher unity than physical. The wheat and tares will grow together. The harvesting belongs to the Lord, and we rest in His hands until that time.
PLEASE ENCOURAGE AUTHOR,
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The Lord knows where His sheep are, and they recognize His voice. Our steady prayer for the ability to discern between good and evil and to try the spirits to see if they are of God and not to listen to the voice of a stranger (or a strange doctrine) will protect us in a higher unity than physical. The wheat and tares will grow together. The harvesting belongs to the Lord, and we rest in His hands until that time. --This is a powerful and refreshing statement. Thank you for allowing me to read it. Thomas