Friday, December 14, 2001
Well, it was a sight many of us never expected to see in our lifetime. Here were the members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, standing together, singing "God Bless America." What a moment! Of course, it took the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, to bring them together like that. We saw similar scenes of the leaders of both parties emerging from White House meetings with the President, speaking almost as one voice; the combined Senate and House responding in total unity to the President's address to Congress. An unprecedented bipartisanship 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 much to learn from what happened among America's national leaders after the terrorist attacks. Indeed, as a nation -- as the Church of Jesus Christ, "united we stand". I know you remember the rest - "divided we fall."
America's leaders were united by a common enemy who takes lives indiscriminately. We have such an enemy - the "thief" who Jesus says "comes to steal, to kill, and destroy" (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 is determined to take with him to hell.
The common enemy and the war to win caused people in leadership to suddenly realize that 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 labels. We, of all people, have a transcendent identity - we're Christians! We've been to the same cross and the same empty tomb to have our sins forgiven, we worship the same Jesus, we'll be together in the same heaven. How can we allow ourselves to be divided? Yes, we must be uncompromising with God's Word. But we must recognize a spiritual brother or 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 brings credit to the Good News about Jesus? "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 in your area? Even in your own church or ministry? If not, why not? Have we allowed our distinctives, our denomination, our pride, our competitiveness, 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 army. Let's remember that turf doesn't matter when people are dying - that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. The enemy is too powerful, the hour is too late, the stakes are too high for us to continue to work in our own separate worlds. United, the army of Christ is unstoppable. Divided, we are helping our enemy. United we stand!