The other night I was watching a little television to clear my head. There is generally not a lot good on the tv but one of those game shows popped on that caught my interest. It was a game called Genius Junior. The gist of the game was simple young people generally middle school-aged would solve nearly impossible problems in ridiculously short amounts of time. The math questions were the most startling!
At just a glance, these children were able to look at numbers and add them in their heads without even thinking. They were able to solve some pretty complex equations without paper, pencil or pausing! It was pretty remarkable to watch!
Now it doesn’t take a genius or a genius junior to know probably one of the most simple equations in the book.
See that wasn’t hard now was it? But what if we learned a new kind of math that said that 1+1=1? It’s not the normal way of doing things and it calls into question everything we’ve learned in life. We know that when we have an orange and an apple, we have two different kinds of fruit. Now stick with me for a minute.
In the Bible, Jesus talks a little about math. Well not really math but we’ll get there. Jesus prays for a single thing in John 17. His prayer is focused on oneness. He prays.
Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.
It’s like Jesus is praying for a new kind of math. He’s praying that instead of looking at who you are and who I am as two different people, we’re supposed to look at the one thing we are together. Just look around. Count the number of churches in your city or town. How many are there? How many of them are of the same basic tradition? How many of them teach very similar things about God, His Son Jesus, and the Bible? How many of them are divided by the way they do things instead of what they believe?
You see the reason that 1+1=2 is that we’re adding things that are separate, distinct and totally different. But what Jesus is talking out is putting together things that are similar and have something key in common. This past Sunday we talked about this in our message about harmony and unity. But the long and short is simple.
When we focus on what divides us instead of unites us we tear apart what God intended to be one.
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It’s true we can’t all be exactly the same but that doesn’t mean we’re supposed to pick one another apart about our differences either. We need to be different. There are things about our tradition as specific followers of Jesus that are important!
But what unites us is far greater than what divides us.
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We pick weird things to divide us. We fight over times of services, style of worship, the size cup we use for communion, what we wear, and the list goes on and on. We disagree about how much water is used for baptism, as if the amount mattered anyway! We may not see eye to eye on the age a person takes communion or the color of the carpet but are those really matters Jesus cared about? The answer is nope!
So what is it that unites us? Simple. According to Jesus in John 17 the thing that pulls us together is the word of God, aka the Bible. That’s it. It’s not our service times or our cool summer programs. It’s not our VBS, what publisher we use, what we wear or who attends our worship services. It’s Jesus. We all carry his name after all. When we were baptized we were given a new name. We were marked with the cross to remind us that we’ve been set aside by Christ for a special and unique purpose. If he unites us, why do we focus so much on what divides us?
We don’t have to be like the genius children in that game show. But it’s pretty simple that when God makes something one, we probably shouldn’t spend most of our time trying to divide it! What God made one, it’s not ours to un-one it!