Last week was the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It was put on in a large, united effort by the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Unfortunately, while Christian communities around the world were coming together to pray for unity, not much attention was drawn to it around campus. As a University, we have devoted an admirable amount of time and effort to racial reconciliation. Reconciliation within the greater Christian community seems like it should be right up our alley.
Sadly, ignorance of and prejudices towards other denominations and Christian groups are all-too-common at SPU. While these attitudes are, more often than not, unintentional, they contribute to an unbiblical and unnecessary fragmentation of the Body of Christ.
The church at Corinth provides an example of division amongst Christians and what the Bible has to say about it. In 1 Corinthians 3: 1-23, Paul describes a church that is divided over which leader — some saying Paul, some saying Apollos — they subscribe to. These quarrels were dividing the church of Corinth not over fundamental issues of Christian doctrine but over prideful issues of human leadership and hierarchy. Paul goes on to say that, although he and Apollos were different, their ministries complemented each other and were, ultimately, both fruitless without God, who alone "gives the growth."
The modern church has very similar divisions which we need to work against. The fellowship of believers, a group Christ intended to be unified and of one mind, is divided and at cross-purposes. Prayer for reconciliation of the Church is essential since many of the wounds are deep. As Pope John Paul II said in a homily given on Wednesday, "Prayer must be accompanied by purification of the mind, the feelings and the memory. Thus it becomes an expression of that ‘inner conversion,’ without which there is no true ecumenism." He went on to call unity a gift of God, a gift that requires truth and humility.
What the pope is saying is that we as a global Christian community need to actively search within ourselves for the things that keep us from seeing the common bonds we all share in Christ. As individuals, we need to search within ourselves for an "inner conversion" from past prejudices and wounds so that we can be healed of that which keeps us divided.
In light of this, ecumenical events such as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity constitute major opportunities for our community to involve itself in a hugely important push towards reconciliation. These are opportunities we should not pass up.
Our community has already made great steps towards racial reconciliation. Now we need to take this to the next level and work towards reconciliation for the entire Body of Christ. We have the resources, position and passion we need to make a difference. The opportunities are out there. All we have to do is take advantage of them.
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Title: Staff Editorials | Author: Staff Editorial | Section: Opinions | Published Date: 2005-01-26 | Internal ID: 4296