July 20, Thursday

The AMI QT Devotionals July 17-23 are written by David Son, who serves as the college pastor at Symphony Church in Boston.  David, a graduate of UC Berkeley (B.S.) and Gordon-Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Grace who teaches at a public school.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Unity in Christ

Galatians 3:26-29

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Back in 2010, I attended a mission trip in rural China with a small team, including the head pastor of the church I was attending at that time. It was a humbling experience to meet the over 50 Chinese house church leaders who had gathered to receive training from our team. Our team consisted of a few college students (I had just graduated from college), and our lead pastor, yet there we were in rural China, teaching and equipping underground church leaders who were old enough to be my grandparents and had withstood the hardships of government persecution. Needless to say, our lead pastor did most of the teaching/preaching.

It happened on the second day. During one of the teaching sessions, we were ambushed and raided by the police. They kicked down the door of the barn-house we were meeting in, and arrested my lead pastor. They shoved him into a police car and drove off without a word. Chaos ensued and my team and I began to panic. Many of the Chinese church leaders began packing their belongings in order to flee to a safer place. We had nowhere to go. It was then that I noticed around 30 of the church leaders who remained seated. They weren’t packing or leaving. Their hands were raised in intercession for my pastor. One of the women pulled me aside and said something I’d never forget: “When you suffer, we all suffer, because we are family.” I began to tear up, because until that moment I had never experienced such beautiful unity in the body of Christ. In nearly every way I was different from these house church leaders. I was younger, I spoke a different language, I came from a different country/culture. And yet, in Christ, we were bonded. We were one!

Ultimately, my pastor ended up being released from prison after just one day. However much we actually taught the Chinese church leaders, I will never forget the love they showed our team. They risked their own safety for the sake of remaining with us and interceding for us during a time of trial and persecution. That is the kind of unity that Paul wished upon the Galatian churches when he said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

This morning, spend some time praying for your church, that in Christ, there would be unity that is able to overcome any hardship.

Prayer: Father, build and strengthen the unity of Your church. Protect us from becoming divided. May we embrace those who feel isolated. Thank You that the bond of Christ’s blood is stronger than any dividing force. Especially during trials and hard times, teach us to lay our lives down for one another. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 19


Lunch Break Study

Read John 17:20-21: I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Questions to Consider

  1. This is from a passage that is known as Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. Who is Jesus praying for here?
  2. What is Jesus praying for here?
  3. What seems to be the purpose for Jesus asking God the Father for this kind of unity?

Notes

  1. You may need to look at the immediate context in order to see this more clearly, but Jesus is actually praying for all future believers/Christians, “for those who will believe in me….” This portion of His prayer is not only for His current disciples, but also for those to come. In other words, He is praying specifically for us!
  2. Jesus prays that we would have unity. Amazingly, He refers to His own perfect unity with the Father as the example of the type of unity that He wants us to have, that “they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you.” Furthermore, Jesus prays, “that they also may be in us.” This is an incredible statement implying that Jesus intends the church to not only be united within itself, but also profoundly united with the Triune God Himself.
  3. Jesus ends this thought by saying, “So that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Unity is not merely an end in itself. The unity of the church is a vehicle for God’s will to be done, that the world would come to know and believe in Jesus.

Evening Reflection

Our nation is arguably more divided than it has ever been before. Amidst all the chaos and disunity manifesting in politics and social media, let us pray that the Church would lead the way in demonstrating a flavor of unity that is only possible by the blood of Christ.

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