Brandon Barker, Lead Pastor, Sojourn Heights

Brandon Barker, Lead Pastor, Sojourn Heights

Saturday, Unity in the Church

 "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me..." Galatians 2:20

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“In all his letters, the apostle Paul never once uses the word “Christian.” Rather, his most common descriptor for those who follow Christ is that they are “in Christ.” It can be easy to read over that little phrase. Yet it is impossible to overstate its significance for Paul. One New Testament scholar says, “Being ‘in Christ’ is the essence of Christian proclamation and experience...Without treating the ‘in Christ’ motif we miss the heart of the Christian message.” Rankin Wilbourne, Union With Christ p.43

Rankin was citing Richard Longenecker who makes an astounding statement, that in the mind of Paul the heart of the Christian message is our shared union with Christ, and nowhere is our union with Christ and it’s implications for unity within the Church more vividly depicted than in Galatians 2. In fact, union with Christ is Paul’s antidote to disunity in the church. Paul has just come upon Peter retreating from eating with Gentiles because Jews are present, effectively drawing a line between Gentile and Jewish Christians. Paul says this hypocrisy is “not in step with the truth of the gospel.” From there Paul applies the gospel to disunity and he begins with our shared justification by faith, but he doesn’t stop there. In verse 20 he get’s underneath our justification to its source when he says Christ “lives in me.” Echoing Jesus words in his climactic prayer from John 17 “I in them,” Paul says you want to address disunity, or inversely, you want to be united, remember these words are just as true for the Gentile Christian as they are for you, “Christ lives in me.”

The Bride of Christ in Houston is a beautifully diverse community. She is Baptist, Anglican, Presbyterian, non-denominational, and everything in between. She is Hispanic, African American, Indian, and countless other ethnicities. While our theological traditions and cultures could not be more diverse, what we all share in common is our union with Christ. We together have been united to him and our shared union is the soil our shared unity grows out of.

Prayer

Father we ask that our shared union with Christ be fertile soil that unity grows out of. We ask that in our unity we would display Triune unity to the world and that it would be a proclamation that out of love for sinners the Father sent the Son. We ask that the Spirit that unites us to Christ would empower to live as one Church, the Church, in Houston. We pray this to the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit.