There are those people you meet who, for one reason or another, just blow you away.
Anne Lang Bundy (Blog | Twitter) is one of those people for me. I am just astounded and blown away by her depth of understanding and her ability to connect biblical truth with any given situation and bring the heavenly and earthly things together.
I’m very grateful that Anne has agreed to be our guest blogger today… enjoy what God has given her to teach us:
“Christianity promises to make men free;
It never promises to make them independent.”
~ William Ralph Inge
The Only Unanswered Prayer of Jesus
Christians are arguably more like the world in one respect than any other: criticizing Christians.
It seems to be changing. Christians are growing intolerant of intolerance within the church. There’s little sympathy these days for the attitude, “If you don’t dress, talk, sing, and behave like we do at our church, then you need to change to be here.”
Belonging to Jesus has never been about what we look like, but who we are. There are no box seats in the Church. Whether we’ve grown up in church and never strayed very far from the straight and narrow, or we’re suffering consequences that’ll follow us to the grave from years of hard time on the dark side, every redeemed sinner is nothing less than a saint.
The problem is that followers of Jesus are better at being hypocrites than behaving saintly. Not a one of us lives up to the example set by our Master. Each of us is a work in progress. We know that of ourselves. (We even use it as an excuse for not behaving like Jesus.) Yet we point the finger at other saints for being unsaintly.
It’s a good thing to declare that the first standard to uphold is love. We obtain eternal life with faith, forgiveness, and humility, not because we have the correct bed partner or the proper view of predestination.
But if we’re willing to love the Christians still confused about how to behave and what to believe, shouldn’t we also be willing to love the Christians still confused about the priority of love and forgiveness above behavior and doctrine? If it’s not okay to shun people who don’t look saintly on the outside, why should it be okay to shun people trying too hard to look saintly on the outside?
Belonging to Christ is who we are, not something to achieve. It’s lived out in love, not labor. It’s about being, not doing. And none of us are going to get it completely right this side of heaven.
What’s important is that we’re together, on the same narrow path moving in the right direction. It doesn’t matter how far along the path we think we are, or how fast we’re traveling.
We need Jesus, and we need His people to navigate this rough road. We need to help one another along, whether by learning to recognize the sin that’s making us miserable, or—far more importantly—by better learning how to simply love God and one another.
We can’t blame the world for being repulsed by the infighting, intolerance, and immorality within the church. We’re long overdue to get rid of them in a spirit of love and unity. Only then might the Father finally grant what’s been called the only unanswered prayer of Jesus:
“I pray for these followers, but I am also praying for all those who will believe in me because of their teaching. Father, I pray that they can be one. As you are in me and I am in you, I pray that they can also be one in us. Then the world will believe that you sent me.”
~ John 17:20-21 (NCV)
Thank you to Anne for guest posting for us today. If you’d like to read more of her wise words, visit her blog at: http://building-his-body.blogspot.com/