I spent this week with a group of pastors I’ve met with for years now. We gather twice a year and share the highs and lows of ministry and life in general. My dad leads the group and invited his friend Joe Tosini (back right in the picture) to join us for an afternoon.
Joe has lived an unbelievable life. He’s written bestselling books, started massively successful churches, been on Oprah, and become friends with Pope Francis. Now in his seventies, Joe leads a ministry simply referred to by Jesus’ prayer in John 17. That’s where Jesus prays these words:
“I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are oneâ€”as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.”John 17:21
Their goal is unity in the church and they specifically work to bring Catholic and Protestant pastors together. One of the phrases that God spoke to Joe throughout his life is that Jesus is not a polygamist. There is only one church and we would do well to act like it.
Here’s the thing: I don’t think we really care about unity. We are content to point out issues with those around us, even those around us who are also following Jesus. That’s why we are quick to exclude people like Rob Bell or Rachel Held Evans for not holding the line on the current collective view on doctrine. It’s also why most Christians don’t spend much time thinking about how Catholics and Protestants should work together… or even be in relationship together.
Joe smiled and told us if we can agree on Easter and Christmas we have enough to build on. I’d paraphrase this by saying that if we can agree on the principal story of Jesus we have enough. It doesn’t mean we suddenly agree with every Christian’s views and opinions or that theology doesn’t matter. It simply means we learn to value unity in Jesus above the specific views that separate us. As Jesus prayed, this unity actually helps the world believe in Him.
I think it’s long past due for this and I hope I can work to be a part of the solution. The fun part is that it’s easy to join in this work. We can apply Christian unity in two questions:
- Who is someone who follows Jesus differently than you?
- How could you get to know them better?
Click here to find out more about what the John 17 group is about.Who is someone who follows Jesus differently than you? How could you get to know them better? Click To Tweet