February 8, 2023
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It was a sight many of us never expected to see in our lifetime. Now I wish we could see it again. In the times we live in, we'd love to see something like this, except for what caused it. Here were the members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats standing together, singing "God Bless America" with all their hearts. What a moment!
Of course you know what it took. It took the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to bring them together like that. I remember seeing similar scenes of the leaders of both parties emerging from White House meetings with the President, speaking in one voice basically; the combined Senate and the House responding in total unity to the President's address to Congress. An unprecedented bipartisanship that left most of us totally amazed. Suddenly, it seemed as if our leaders had discovered an identity that transcended Republican or Democrat. Suddenly, we were all just Americans.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "United We Stand."
The followers of Jesus Christ have something to learn from what happened among America's national leaders those years ago after the terrorist attacks. Indeed, as a nation, as the Church of Jesus Christ, "united we stand." I know you remember the rest of that, right? "Divided we fall."
America's leaders were united by a common enemy who took lives indiscriminately. We have such an enemy - the one the Bible calls the "thief" who "comes to steal, to kill, and destroy," Jesus said in John 10:10 - Satan himself. America's leaders were united by the recognition that suddenly they had a war to win. The followers of Jesus are faced with no less a challenge - to win a war against our enemy and save the lives he's determined to take with him to hell.
The common enemy and the war to win caused people in leadership to suddenly realize they had an identity higher than the partisan labels that usually defined them. They had a transcendent identity called "American." How then can we who know Christ, whose cause has stakes that are eternal; how can we continue to be divided by our denominational and theological and even racial labels? We, of all people, have a transcendent identity - we're Christians! We're followers of Jesus! We've been to the same cross. We've been to the same empty tomb to have our sins forgiven, we worship the same Christ, and we'll be together in the same heaven. How can we allow ourselves to be so divided? Yeahs, we must be uncompromising with God's Word, but we've got to recognize a spiritual brother and sister and stand with them, not against them.
Philippians 1:27, our word for today from the Word of God, challenges us to "conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." What kind of living is that? What kind of living brings credit to the Good News about Jesus? Here we go: "Stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel." Honestly now, does that describe how God's people are working where you live? Even in your own church or your ministry? Standing firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel? If not, why not? Have we allowed our distinctives, our denomination, our pride, our competitiveness, our opinions, our turf to keep us from joining hands to rescue the dying people all around us? That's unworthy of the Gospel!
Let's not waste any more bullets shooting at our own soldiers. Let's remember that turf doesn't matter when people are dying; that what unites us is so much greater than what divides us. The enemy is too powerful, the hour is too late, and the stakes are just too high for us to continue to work in our own separate worlds.
United, the army of Christ is unstoppable. Divided, we're just helping our enemy. United we stand!