Monday, June 13, 2011

The Hebrew Shema: Unity - June 13th, 2011

"Hear O' Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One!"
Deuteronomy 6:5

"But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit."
1 Corinthians 12:11-13

History and Context:
Deuteronomy 6:5 - For some information on the entire Shema see yesterdays post, The Hebrew Shema. There is a lot more in this sentence then we, as western Christians, of the 21st century, see. Yes, it is saying that there is only one God and one Lord, but it is also speaking of unity among God's people. Much of the old testament was originally passed from generation to generation through oral tradition, then all of the oral stories and teachings were gathered and put into writings during the time in which Israel was a kingdom. When Israel split into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, the scribes also became split. The northern scribes would always refer to the Holy One as God or, in Hebrew, El but the southern kingdom would always refer to him as Lord or, in Hebrew, Yahweh. Deuteronomy was then put into writing later, by a different set of scribe, in the time of the Babylonian exile. So when the writer says: "the Lord (Yahweh) our God (El), the Lord is One." They are sending a message to the people of Israel that they are one people, serving one God.

1 Corinthians 12:11-13 - In this passage, Paul is sending the same message to the Corinthians, "one and the same Spirit" does everything. Paul is speaking to a group of Christians, in Corinth, which valued the spiritual gifts highly, but they were also highly carnal. They would often fight over which gift was better and who operated more often in the gifts, trying to make themselves higher and more important to the others. Paul says (paraphrased) 'Stop fighting! All gifts are from the same Spirit, we all serve the same God, and therefore we are all one body working together for the same purpose.'

The Text:
The message of the text is simple. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament teach strongly the importance of unity among God's people. WE are all serving the same God and are striving after the same purpose, and therefore we must stop fighting and work together. Today this same message applies. We must stop fighting amongst ourselves. There are so many denominations and factions of Christianity that it is greatly hindering our progress for the Gospel. People look at the church and decide they don't want to be a part because we are fighting each other. Our God is one and we as a people need to work together as one. We are the body of Christ and each part is just as important as the other.

The Challenge:
The challenge is for you to ask yourself: "Where have I caused division in the Body of Christ?" and "What can I do to fix it?" Find a way to work with a church or a individual from a different denomination. Remember that your church is not the only church and is definitely not a perfect church. Rejoice when someone comes into the Body of Christ, even if they start going to the church down the street instead of your church! To make this challenge specific, each one of us needs to look at our own life and our own surroundings to see what we can do to help the unity of the body of Christ.

The Prayer:
Lord,help me to see how I can build unity in your church. If I have ever done anything to cause division, please forgive me, and show me how I can fix it. I pray that you would bring us together across the nation, and across the world, to bring forth your will on this earth. To bring forth your Gospel on this earth. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen!

No comments:

Post a Comment