The Restoration Movement didn’t begin in the 19th century. It didn’t even begin in the first century. It began in the Garden of Eden when God set out to find and restore his people who had sinned. It continued when Jesus came to seek and save the lost. It continued when 3,000 new disciples were baptized on the Day of Pentecost and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer. It continued in the 1800s when bold believers like Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone stepped out of their denominational boxes and said, “We want to be Christians only.”
Today, the ideals of our movement remain as valid as ever. We still need to lift up Christ crucified and risen again, speak where the Bible speaks, and pursue unity with other Christians, serving together in faith, hope, and love. As “members of one body” we have been “called to peace” (Colossians 3:15).
Christ Can Bring Us Together
Unity seems illusive. How did Matthew the tax collector ever get together with John the Son of Thunder? How did Peter the impetuous fisherman get together with Paul the former persecutor? How could Jews and Gentiles both be called Christians in Antioch? They came together in Christ.
A denomination can’t unite us, but Christ can. A talented preacher or a fancy building can’t unite us, but Christ can. We’re pieces of scrap iron, but Christ is the magnet that pulls us together. He’s the focal point of our unity, the foundation of our church, the focus of our faith.
Too often, even when our position is right, our disposition is wrong. Instead of being humble, gentle, and patient with each other, we battle over our differences, which weakens our witness to those outside the church. Marvin Phillips said, “Satan’s greatest weapon has been to keep the people of God arguing about lesser things.” When Christians quarrel instead of fulfilling the Great Commission, we’re like two lifeguards who get into a fistfight on the beach while swimmers drown in the water.
Here are three practical steps we can take.
1. Put unity on our prayer list. It was on Jesus’ prayer list. He prayed that his followers would be “brought to complete unity” (John 17:23). Unity was on Paul’s prayer list. He said, “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:17, 18). Whatever becomes a priority in our prayers tends to become a priority in our lives. When we come together in prayer and repentance, our disagreements will fade.
2. Ask God to change our own hearts. Are we personally making every effort to “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3)?
3. Make peace one friend at a time. We can bring comfort and hope to a world full of suffering. We can preach the gospel, baptize new disciples, send missionaries to other lands, plant churches, feed the hungry, nurture families, bring hope to the poor, save marriages, teach children, care for the elderly, and change our cities. But we can’t do it alone. We’re members of one body. Let’s do it together.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Lesson based on The Lookout’s Scope and Sequence ©2018. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.