An important event happened this week when military units from different countries overlooked their differences and worked together. The city of St Lo in France was recaptured by Allied forces. A lot has been made of the rivalry between American generals such as Patton and Bradley, and the British leaders such as Field Marshal Montgomery. On the surface, it would seem that there were significant divisions between them. But while British and American units were divided by nationality and loyal to separate chains of command, they were united in purpose, and together, they conquered an enemy determined to keep control of the strategic crossroads that St Lo represented.
It was also during this week in 1054 that the Eastern and Western churches traded excommunications of their opposite patriarchs, and parted ways. The Great Schism has been revisited over the years, but attempts to heal the rift have failed. The stated reason for the division was the Western idea that the Holy Spirit came from the Father through the Son, while the Eastern tradition holds that the Holy Spirit comes from the Father independently of the Son.
While that might not seem all that significant to some, it was enough to cause the groups to split, and remain split for nearly 1000 years. Over the centuries since, the church has further fragmented, yielding Russian, Greek, Roman, Protestant, and many other variants.
It seems that Jesus’ prayer, in John 17, asking for Christian unity, has been ignored.
Jesus request, “.. that they are one, even as We are One…” (John 17:21), implores the same concept as the Allies’ common goal. He is asking for unity in purpose, for His followeres to work together for a common goal. Christianity is charged by Christ to seek out the lost, and make disciples, and in that effort, most of Christendom is united in that purpose. Regardless of the Christian denomination, most agree with Paul that we cannot save ourselves, but we are saved by the Grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-10). While many point to the disunity, most overlook the unity rooted int he pursuit of Christ.
Just as the Allies were united in purpose, Christiandom is united in purpose against a common enemy. Don’t let yourself to use the surface differences of the various Christian sects as an excuse to ignore God. While there are some groups out there that have added to Scripture, the majority have not, and remain far more united in purpose than it would appear on the surface. As believers of the same Christ, lets resolve to pray for one another rather than compete with each other.