Sunday, 15 July 2007

IFES World Assembly: unity

As I walked to my flat for an hour break, I rejoiced in the true unity that is here. In the past few hours I'd moved from speaking to a Lithuanian (Edita says hi, for those who know her!), to a Spaniard (Edite continues training most of Europe in evangelism!), to Brazilians (re-pioneering in Uruguay), to NZ-ers, to Irish (Cassells gave very helpful wisdom & advice), to Nigerians (was good to have Mike join our small group - Gen Sec of NIFES, I met him at a Relay conference some years ago), and others some of whom we can't name.

With some I have differences of opinion. Much of the style here could irritate most of us in some way! We face different situations and cultures. With some I have differences of theology and emphasis. Yet I can learn from all, and am humbled by the testimony of so many who continue to serve Christ through war, persecution, exile, prison, rejection, and much else. And I rejoice in the true unity that we have in Christ.

A fake religion can try to ape that. But all they can really achieve is uniformity. We have no uniformity here whatsoever! So much so that some aspects are difficult for some of us. But we have unity in Christ. In Christ, into the world. And that is the theme of the conference. And no matter how hard the differences are, our unity is sweet.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the
interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in
Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a
servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in
heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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