Focusing on that which binds us together


The New King James Version says it like this, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

The Message Bible states it this way, “There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live.”

No matter how you say it – what comforting words for a believer in Christ Jesus.

This has long been a favorite verse of mine from the Bible, and to me, what makes it even more special is to think Jesus made this statement on the night he was about to undergo unimaginable torture and pain on our behalf. His thoughts were not on himself and his pain. His thoughts were on the pain his disciples were about to go through as they would watch their leader, their teacher, their Messiah take the sins of the world upon himself and die the death that should be theirs and ours.

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Pentecost – that day when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples. It replaced their fear with courage and prepared them for the task Jesus had begun in them with his three years of teaching and training. Most would go to their deaths spreading the Word – the Good News of repentance in the name of Jesus Christ. They weren’t afraid of that death that would lead them to one of those rooms Jesus had prepared for them in our Father’s House.

We celebrate Pentecost every year because the power of the Holy Spirit is still ours for the asking. The Holy Spirit still calls us to spread the Good News, and it calls us all – all who believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

I recently accepted a leadership role in the Shelby County Ministerial Association. This is a group open to all ministers in Shelby County, and I would encourage all to seek to attend our meetings when we start back up in September. This group reminds me of the Scripture verse I began with. To be sure, there are differences in our various denominations, but there is so much more that unites us rather than divides us. Our mission is very simple: to share the grace, the compassion, the love of God – to seek to be his hands and feet in our communities.

I accepted this position for the same reason I encourage all pastors to be a part of our efforts – we are in this fight together. Make no mistake; we are in a battle against sin in this world. Satan believes very much in divide and conquer. But, before we are United Methodist or Lutherans, or Baptists, or any other denomination, we are first Children of God.

As Memorial Day is so recently behind us, let us, as we remember those who answered the call to serve in the battles that have helped maintain our freedom, also answer the call. Let us, brothers and sisters preparing to enter the same House of God one day, be a unified force in the battle against the evils of this world. Let us, as the Apostle Paul said, put on the full armor of God and stand shoulder to shoulder, focusing not on our differences but on that which binds us together!