A couple of weeks ago, as my pastor was preaching, he referenced a scripture that stuck with me and stirred me. The scripture was from Acts 4:32 “All the believers were one in heart and mind…”. As I continued to think about that part of the verse and recite it, I saw a friend post a similar scripture from a different passage: 1 Corinthians 1:10 which says “Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” After seeing this, God stirred in me a curiosity to find all the places in the Bible that spoke about being united in one heart and one mind.
With our culture and political climate as it is, a country that is supposed to be united likely couldn’t be more divided. Just turn on the news and you’ll see bashing of people, businesses and leaders within our communities and political offices. But the divisions don’t stop there. They also extend over into our churches as well.
For the past four years I have volunteered time to an organization that sought to start an outreach ministry via a community music festival. Having been to a similar type of festival several times, I know the impact such a festival can have on its attendees. When I graduated from high school I attended such a festival and discovered the awesomeness of a community being UNITED in worship. This festival I attended drew tens of thousands and over years has sometimes had close to 100,000 people to attend in a single year. While the numbers change and shift each year, some years higher, some years lower, in the “big picture” the numbers and size of the festival don’t necessarily matter. What does matter are the lives that are changed through Jesus Christ as a result of having attended the festival. While it is a music festival, it also has a lot of speakers who bring God’s word in the evenings as well as several other opportunities throughout the day. When the altar call is given in the evenings, I have seen THOUSANDS go forward to receive prayer and forgiveness and to have God more fully in their lives. During this whole experience of the festival there has been no division among us. No one worried about skin color or denomination, what kind of clothes you were wearing, what color you dyed your hair or if you had tattoos or not. We were UNITED in worship to our one Creator. That first festival I attended was an experience that made an impact on my life and in time as I went back and took others, would impact their lives too.
As I mentioned earlier at the onset of writing, I set out on a search of the Bible to find passages in which we should be UNITED in one heart and one mind. Here’s what I found:
Acts 4:32 – “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.”
1 Corinthians 1:10 – “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.“
Philippians 2:1-2 – “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirt and of one mind.”
Romans 15:6 – “so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Sounds totally OPPOSITE of our current culture doesn’t it? Yet 17 years ago after the horrible tragedy of 9/11, we came together as a country united. A friend of mine recently wrote a blog post for MOPS International that was published on their blog on 9/11/18. In it she wrote:
In the days following, many found comfort in past words from Mister Rogers: “Look for the helpers.” He also said, “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”
The words I bolded from her paragraph stood out to me. It reminded me of the many who’ve said “not my president” after the last election. Our country is so divided that if one doesn’t get what they want, then one is ready to abandon the very country that gives them the freedom of choices to begin with. Where are the heroes? The ones who see a need and respond? The ones who see a problem and look for a sensible solution? Where are those who respond with love and compassion to make the best of a bad situation rather than with a stomping temper tantrum that they didn’t get their way? It’s been demonstrated before, we HAVE the ability to COME TOGETHER to be UNITED regardless of who sits in the presidential office. We have a responsibility to act responsibly. We came together during the 9/11 disaster. We come together to help others after natural disasters like tornadoes and hurricanes. Communities come together to help families when houses burn down, or a child dies unexpectedly, or is tragically struck with an illness.
Why should we wait for a tragedy to come together?
Other scriptures I came across during my search that I found relevant (emphasis by me):
2 Corinthians 13:11 – “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice!! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”
Revelation 2:23 – “I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am He who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.”
Proverbs 19:8 – “The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.”
The Bible tells us to be of one mind, to encourage one another, yet unfortunately I’ve seen division even within the church community. As I mentioned earlier, after serving for two different ministries not associated with any particular church or denomination, I’ve found that more often than not, churches DON’T want to come together, and that’s SAD.
While at the local festival called Replenish Festival this past summer, I had attendees ask me, “WHY aren’t MORE churches involved?” To which I replied, “That’s what we all want to know, and if you figure out that answer, let us know!” With Replenish Festival, I know there was a group of volunteers to reach out to nearly every church within the area to send flyers, to call, to email, to contact them personally. But after having served on volunteer staff for MOPS International, I know that when talking to individual churches about a community event or group, their first question is, “what church or denomination are you affiliated with?” I understand wanting to make sure that the beliefs are in alignment with theirs, but even after explaining, leaving website and information with mission statement and the like they began to seem “frightened” or “territorial” as though the ministry I volunteered for was “out to get their members” and somehow steal them away. Neither ministry is/was a church and members of each ministry were often from DIFFERENT churches. Yet, I don’t know of one church I visited to tell their congregation about this awesome Mom’s group and share the information I gave them. The only new faces that walked into our MOPS meeting was due to one of the mom’s personally inviting another mom. I feel certain if the churches had shared that resource with their congregation, perhaps we could have reached out to support even more moms.
Coming back to the subject of the Festival…there are many opportunities for churches to be involved and thankfully there has been a few devoted each year with both larger and smaller congregations. These churches have offered volunteer support, promotion to their congregations, as well as financial support. Replenish Festival offers to connect those who attend the festival and make a commitment to Christ to a partnering church if they don’t already have a church home. Replenish offers opportunities for pastors and church leaders to write for the blog. Replenish offers the worship teams of partnering churches to play at the festival. Replenish offers Church Event Connect – an online billboard – to post about events open to the community.
Replenish continues to seek even more opportunities to unite churches together in community to outreach further into our respective communities to bring the Word and Message of Christ to all. Isn’t that what Christ commissioned us to do so many years ago? Where are the churches that “get” the vision? Why are they not actively involved in coming together with a festival of this nature? How awesome would it be to be UNITED as Romans 15:6 states “so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and so that churches may do as 2 Corinthians 13:11 states – “Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.”
How awesome would it be?