On Sunday May 31st, Christians all over the world celebrated the birth of the Church remembered at Pentecost. Our church family, the Nazarene British Isles North District, celebrated with our own first-ever Online Joint Church Service. It was incredible to watch dozens of churches collaborate together in worship, prayer, and teaching. It was truly a special act of praise as we sang along with multiple worship leaders from churches across Scotland, Northern England and Northern Ireland. It was faith building to know that the same Holy Spirit who we celebrate at Pentecost, is the same Spirit who binds us together in a heart of unity. Watching and worshipping together with hundreds of other Nazarene Christians brought together the clarity of Paul’s words to the Ephesian Church as he encouraged them to pursue the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
He writes to them and says,
“There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6)
The Pentecost service was beautiful. It has now been watched over 1700 times and was a blessing to so many. And if you haven’t done so already, you can still watch the service here.
But more than just the service itself, I am overwhelmed by the power of the gathered Church. It is a beautiful thing when the church dwells together in unity. (Psalm 133) And it has always been God’s design that we need one another. From the very beginning, God told Adam that it was “not good” that he was alone. God was showing Adam, and us, that we need and flourish alongside one another.
Jesus continued this same message to His disciples. The Gospel of John records Jesus as saying, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35 NLT
Truly the world is watching. And the world is blessed when the Church dwells in unity. Four weeks ago, dozens of British churches got together and recorded “The UK Blessing”. Currently, the video has been watched over 3 million times. The video has a description stating, “over 65 churches and movements, representing hundreds of others, have come together online to sing a blessing over our land. Standing together as one, our desire is that this song will fill you with hope and encourage you.” It was Psalm 133 becoming visible over Youtube! And since this video, there has now been numerous more. The Hawaii Blessing, the Irish Blessing, the Malaysian Blessing, and I’m sure there is more to come.
This has been an incredible time of the unity of the global Church.
I have loved watching the blessing that comes with such unity. I have also been brought to humility and prayer in reflecting upon the hurt that the evil one causes with the division and separation of the Believers. Whereas it is true that we are blessed in unity, it is equally true that there is pain in isolation and disunity. We have already talked at great length in previous blogs, devotionals, and sermons about the mental stress of isolation and the negative effects it has upon our psychological health. There are many online tools and counselors who have been employed to work through such a difficult season. We should all strive to help strengthen our brothers and sisters who are struggling with isolation.
But it is also important to see the spiritual side of such a battle. On Pentecost, we celebrated the “Holy” Spirit who brings power and unity to the Church. But we also must remember that there are other “spirits” who would seek the disunity of the Church. Once again, Paul writes it clearly to the Ephesian Church.
“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:10-12
It is a powerful reminder that there is a spiritual war, and that the unity of the Church is a battle point at the center of the war. Followers of Jesus should not only actively work towards the unity of the Church, but they should also have an eye for those who are separated or left behind. The Bible tells us that “the devil prowls about like a roaring lion”, and we know, lions will always go for the one who is strangling behind.
The Pentecost service, the UK Blessing, and the fellowship of the church are all evidences of God’s blessing and His intention to bring about a united Church. But we should not forget that this unity was fought for in the heavenly realms and can easily be lost if it is not guarded and valued.
Let us honor the Holy Spirit, who brings the Unity of the Believers, by pursuing and keeping the fellowship of the Church.
Let us pursue Love, Grace, and Forgiveness.
Let us “Resist the Devil – so that he might flee.”
Let us “See” those who are hurting or left aside, and strive to bring them in.
Let us Pray.
Reflections for the Week
- Watch the Pentecost service online if you have not done so already. Think about what God spoke to you regarding the service.
- Consider the Unity of the Church. What does it mean to you? Do you pray for the Unity of the Church? Could you find a time in the week to create a habit of doing so?
- Read Ephesians 6 and think about spiritual warfare. Last week we talked about “End Times” and the encouragement to live in such a way to discern the times. Spiritual warfare is the same. We need to be able to discern the spirits of this age.
- Is there any relationship that you know that is strained, or is there a person that you know who is isolated? Pray about it, and then pursue that person in Love.