ONLINE CHURCH BULLETIN
Christians should live in harmony so "that the world may believe" that God sent Jesus (John 17:21). In John 17, a clear distinction is made between the world and the church. The world are those who potentially "believe" and the church are those who "believe on" Jesus. In the Book of John, when "believe" is accompanied by a preposition such as "believe in" or "believing on," reference is usually to an accepting, trusting, and obeying faith. When "believe" without a preposition is placed in contrast to "believe in" or "believe on," reference is to a mere acceptance of facts. Christ prayed that those who "believe on" Him [those with obedient faith, the church, Christians] might be one so that the world might come to "believe" (accept the fact) that God did send Jesus as deity incarnate to die for man.
Often the steps for initial salvation are cited: believe (John 8:24), repent (Acts 3:19), confess faith in Jesus' deity (Rm. 10:10), and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). To be as successful as possible in getting the world to take even the first step, Christians need to live in harmony! When a spirit of sweet harmony prevails among God's family, the world will be more encouraged to investigate the abundant life (Jn. 10:10). When love flows from one Christian's heart to another's, the world will be all the more attracted to "the peace that passeth understanding" (Phil. 4:7).
Christians should also live in harmony so "that the world may know" that God sent Jesus out of love for them (Jn. 17:23). Jesus wants the world to understand the purpose of His mission-to be man's Savior (cf. I John 4:9, 10, 14) by God's grace (Heb. 2:9). In St. Paul's Cathedral of London, a life-size marble statue depicts Jesus writhing in anguish on the cross. Its subscription reads: "This is how God loved the world!"
In keeping with God's scheme of redemption (cf. Eph. 3:9-11), Jesus hurdled the chasm from celestial to terrestrial and, being conceived of the Holy Spirit, nestled within the womb of a virgin. In the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4) He was born of woman as Immanuel, "God with us," and began a thirtythree year teaming process. He attended the university of hard knocks and majored in humanity. In doing so, He learned the ecstasy of a smile and the bitterness of a tear. He learned the pangs of temptation and the satisfaction of victory over it. He learned the bliss of acceptance and the torture of rejection. Then, as one cursed and hanging on a tree, with His life pulsating from open wounds, His face dried with the mockery of human spittle and His shoulders burdened with the aggregate sins of mankind, He learned the cruel agony of death.
The story may be summarized in one verse: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). How wonderful is the story of Jesus! How humbling! For this story to be as appealing as possible to those of the world, Christians must be found "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3)!
-condensed from Harmony Among the Heirs of Heaven,
House to House/Heart to Heart
Volume 8/No. 3, page 7