“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship. Social religion is perfected when private religion is purified.”
If you have driven anywhere lately, you have probably seen a growing number of vehicles sporting a bumper sticker with various faith symbols resembling the word “coexist.” The symbols forming this word include the Islamic crescent moon, a peace sign, the male and female symbol, the Jewish Star of David, a Wiccan pentacle, the Chinese yin-yang, and at the very end of the word, a cross. It is an effort to promote religious tolerance, a symbolic representation that all religious systems are equally valid and should be respected. There is only one problem. The cross has to be lopped off the end of the bumper sticker. It can never be part of that equation.
Jesus, the God-man whom that cross represents, boldly declared, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6, emphasis mine). In a time when the religious leaders were seeking to kill Him for declaring that He was God, Jesus spoke radical words—words that would be deemed extraordinarily intolerant in twenty-first century America. According to Jesus, the other symbols on the coexist bumper sticker represent equally invalid religious systems that attract people who are hungry to find some way to achieve a sense of peace within their souls. But religious tolerance and human effort will never lead them to the only Way, Truth, and Life. That is found in Jesus Christ alone.
Paul, a persecutor of Christians turned apostle of Christ, clearly understood this truth. As “a prisoner for the Lord,” he urged all believers in Jesus to be united to each other precisely because of the “one body…one Spirit…one hope…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” and who called them to Himself (Eph. 4:1, 4-6). Jesus Christ, not religious tolerance, is to be the basis of our unity.
In Jesus, our one Lord, we find every reason to be united. We are all called to the same hope, and we must not allow petty divisions to take our eyes off of our prize and treasure, Jesus Christ Himself. Paul urges us to “live worthy of the calling we have received” (Eph. 4:1). And the appropriate response to who Jesus is and what He has done requires humility, gentleness, and patience as we “bear with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2).
Our calling has been clearly identified. As we examined in earlier posts, we have been chosen, predestined, redeemed, and adopted. The debt of our sins was canceled, and we have been made alive with Christ. God calls us His workmanship; we are no longer foreigners and aliens, but citizens with God’s people and members of His household. This is your identify in Christ! Are you living a life that is worthy of this high calling?