Fidelity to the Truths vs Maintaining Christian Unity in the Church
On the night of his betrayal, Our Lord Jesus prayed in the upper room in John 17 what is commonly referred to as His High Priestly prayer. We will read just verses 20-26. Jesus has already prayed for his disciples in a variety of ways, and He continues and speaks as follow to His heavenly Father in John 17:20-26
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you; may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me that they may be one as we are one. I in them and me in you. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you; and they know, that you have sent me. I have made you known to them and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.
-- John 17:20-26
-- John 17:20-26
Now, remember, that what we are saying in a general way in this series of messages is in harmony with the way Charles Simeon put it, "The truth is not in the middle, it's not in one extreme, it's in both extremes". Or, as C.K. Chesterton, the famous English writer of the early 20th Century put it, "Christianity got over the problem of furious opposites by keeping them both, and keeping them furious."
I realize, that this is entirely an uneasy thought, but I want you to think with me about this: how often, in the reading of the word of God or hearing the word of God preached to you, it has occurred to you to ask, "How does that, go together with this? How can the bible say this, when the bible has said this? That seems to be almost a contradictory thing!" And I also want you to realize that this is not only the Bible's pedagogy of teaching us truth in this way; it is not just the Holy Spirit's way of teaching to give us the poles and not to attempt to reconcile or synthesize, for example, the pole of an absolute sovereign God and the pole of Him as an absolute responsible human being. This is not just a divine pedagogy but I think it is the nature of reality itself. The more we see it in the word of God, the more we realize that this is simply the way things are and if we are going to be in touch with reality (the way things really are), we are going to have to live with this tension between opposing ideas all the time.
Think of another example. God is very great. He inhabits eternity. He dwells in unapproachable light. No man has seen His glory and no man can see it and survive. And yet, God is near us. He is right next to us, and He cares for us and loves us. The God who controls, the motion of every molecule in the vast universe, also knows the details of your life and cares about everything that is happening to you.
Keeping those two things together is extraordinarily difficult for every Christian. And I think if you stopped and thought about it, you would realize that some of the time, in your mind and in your heart, God is up there. The high God, the remote God, the all-powerful God; and sometimes He is down here as your loving heavenly Father. But He has to be both! If your God is only the God who is down here with you, and not also the God who made the heavens and the earth and rules over them all, and whose divine glory would consume us in a moment if we were to see it, then you don't have a true view of God.
God must be both to us. He must be high, and He must be down here with us. That is reality. It is simply the way things are. We live with these tensions. We do and we must! And what I am trying to help you see in these series of messages is that you should not shun the reality of this tension. I don't want you to try to escape those tensions. I want you to embrace them. And every time you hear something in the word of God, I want you to think about the other thing the word of God says, and then I want you to believe both things; however difficult it is to reconcile in our minds, small as they are: I want you to believe both things with equal determination.
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