Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sweet Unity!

Hello All,

Let me begin this blog entry with this set of verses that most all of us recall.

"Now John answered Him, saying, 'Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.' But Jesus said, 'Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our side." Luke 9:38-40

I can just see the incredulity on Christ's face. I bet His first response was to crack a joke, something like: "Hey, go back there and get that demon back into that guy and then you cast him out with our secret formula! Oh and leave a card while you're at it!" Of course, the beauty of the response is that he who is not against us is on OUR SIDE! We're playing for the same team! We're shooting toward the same goal! Just because they are not part of our elite club, or an accepted part of our little group, does not mean that they are against us!

Honestly, here in the states, this is often how it feels. It is unfortunate, but it seems rare to find Christian people together with other Christians who are not part of "us!" And what makes matters worse ironically is that each denomination is big enough to have multiple churches in any given area, so that when there is need for a conference or a retreat, there are plenty of resources to gather from without leaving that denomination's influence! Who needs other denominations when you can have a Calvary Chapel Worship Conference and have 3 thousand strong coming to it!

Now, that being said, one cannot ignore that these denominations serve a tremendous purpose in the kingdom in that they offer an endless variety to an endlessly diverse constituency. How can we have unity and still remain distinctive?

While in Spain, I had the privilege of witnessing something special to my eyes. Back in December, our church gathered together with 2 other ministries in Southern Spain for a Christmas celebration. These two other ministries, one in Barbate and one in Algeciras, were not Calvary Chapels. To this day, I am not sure what denomination they come from. We shared a meal and laughed together. Somehow, knowing that each person in this room was loyal to Christ and to His body brought a tremendous love for people that we had not met. It was wonderful.

After the bountiful amount of food was consumed, each ministry took turns and reported what God had done through the individual ministries. Carlos shared about his most recent trip to Morocco and everyone enjoyed his stories. Ian from Algeciras shared about the Lighthouse, a wonderful ministry to backpackers on the road to Morocco. Robert, the Pastor of the Church which hosted this event did not share but his part was firmly established, especially since his congregation provided the Paella!

I was in awe of how we all sat there and rooted for each other. We did not argue about the methods employed or the differences that genuinely exist in the forms of our worship. We simply appreciated each other, and applauded the growing of the Kingdom of Christ through the faithful contributions of His Saints in Spain, laborers in the Harvest Field.

It's true that these churches all adhere to the basics of the faith and are not swayed by the winds of every doctrine. But in the vacuum of a country that is predominantly not Christian, those lines are much more clearly delineated. What a joy then that it was to sit there and know that these brothers and sisters, while not a part of "us" were for "us" anyway!

Today, I hope that I can help to bridge some of the gap that so engulfs the many denominations that serve in this country. I want to start by appreciating and applauding their efforts, regardless of how different they might be from my own. And then, I want to offer them my prayer support and my loyalty as a Christian brother. I hope in time that I can see a similar event happen here in the United States as the one I witnessed in Barbate. That would be a wonderful accomplishment for me, probably for all of us.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

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