With Unity to Pentecost

FACING death, one talks about the things that are nearest to his heart, the things that really matter. Consider Jesus and the last moments He spent with His disciples before Gethsemane. . .

FACING death, one talks about the things that are nearest to his heart, the things that really matter. Consider Jesus and the last moments He spent with His disciples before Gethsemane. What was His great concern? "Little children," He said, "a new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13: 33-35).

These words were spoken primarily to His disciples, not to the world. There was to be a special love among the brethren for one another. Following the experience in the upper room Jesus led the way to ward Gethsemane. All the way He continued to talk with them about the things that mattered most (John 14-16). Then His words were sealed with His final prayer, the last prayer offered in company with His disciples before His death. The burden was still the same the need for love and unity among the brethren. Hear Him say it again and again. The theme throbs through the whole petition. Nothing else could be of greater importance to those who were to carry on the work for which He was to lay down His life than that they be one one in spirit, in fellowship, in love.

"That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one . . . ; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me" (chap 17: 21-23).

Unity Desperately Needed

This unity of which Christ spoke and for which He prayed is desperately needed in the Seventh-day Adventist Church to day. Then the world will know that we are born-again last-day Christians. Soon representatives of our church will gather from all parts of the world in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to hear reports and to plan for the furtherance of the work. The spot light of the world will be upon us. Many scrutinizing reporters will be present. Many of them will be amazed at how successfully Seventh-day Adventists are able to carry on such a worldwide program. But of far greater importance than all statistics will be the witness the church can bear to its unity and love for one another. What is most necessary is that the unity Christ desired for the church be seen and felt among us.

But there are some dark shadows hovering over the church. I am thinking particularly of the North American Division. This field has suffered under some adverse experiences. It has not yet attained the ideal for which the Lord prayed.

In Matthew 24:7 we read: "For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom . . ."

I was born and raised in a European country where these words met almost daily fulfillment. Out of it grew a hatred that often ended in the shedding of much innocent blood. And after many years of suffering and great loss the strife and bitterness persist. Unfortunately, too often this same spirit infected the hearts of our own church members. Thus alienation appeared within what was supposed to be a united universal congregation. This came because the oneness in Christ was subordinated to national and personal considerations.

God's remnant church should have no barriers, no nationalism, no racism, or any such thing especially in these last days when the need for unity is so great so that we might receive the promised power for the finishing of the work.

Seek Only God's Honor

In the days of the apostles it was when unity prevailed that there was also a great working of the Holy Spirit. Even greater things are in store for us when we, as members of the remnant church, enter into the same experience, seeking only the honor of God and the advancement of His kingdom.

God's children come from every kindred, tongue, and people. But under the miracle-working power of the gospel through the love of Christ and the pleading of the Spirit every wall of partition is broken down.

The United States is often referred to as the melting pot of nations. This is true in a limited sense. But unfortunately, what we know in Europe as national pride has not always been extinguished in the hearts of men when they reach American shores. There is no question but that there are many problems with which minority groups must contend. I know what it means to be laughed at, scoffed at, and ridiculed. Often I was stung with the words, "Nazi, go home," only because I was of German nationality and struggling with a new language. I can sympathize with the black man in this country, for I often endured much of what he experiences. But we are Christ's, and as His we can suffer. We know that someday the Lord will turn the captivity. I often accepted lower wages and harder work. Sometimes this meant walking instead of riding, or the denial of some pleasure. But in my desire to witness faithfully for Christ I worked longer and harder. This ultimately won for me the respect of others and the Lord turned the captivity for me.

Living Like Christ

As Seventh-day Adventist Christians, looking for the coming of the Lord, we must all work and live as Christ worked and lived, preferring one another, showing kindness and diligence in honest service, walking the second mile if need be. Christ will give sufficient grace as He has promised and there will be peace in the heart and love, even for our enemies.

It has been my pleasure and privilege in the eighteen years that I have now lived in the United States to associate or work with men and women of many different races black, yellow, red, and white and I have been reminded again and again that God loves us all and has made provision for the salvation of all who will accept Him.

Before God every man is equal. All are the work of His creation and the object of His love. But as Jesus lived and died with out retaliation or rebellion, without responding to the indignities thrust upon Him, so we are to live in these last days. Only those who possess the Spirit of Christ can belong to Him.

We who have come to the threshold of eternity cannot afford the perilous developments that are bringing the painful divisions and polarizations that are increasingly evident in the world. Beloved, we need unity. Regardless of our background, whether we be educated or uneducated, rich or poor, French, German, Polish, Russian, black, white, red, yellow, or brown, we are all to be one in Christ Jesus, brothers and sisters of the church of God.

Genuine Brotherly Love Necessary

In these awesome days our dignified, even-tempered, love-filled Christian lives are to make an impact on a world steeped in selfishness and sin and nearing the judgment day. An unparalleled display of genuine brotherly love and true unity among Seventh-day Adventists will be to the world the greatest witness that we are Christ's and that our cause is His. Such a display at Atlantic City and in our local churches will do more than all else to advance the work and prepare the church for the time when thousands will be received into its fellowship in a day.

Fellow believers, of whatever cultural or racial background, let us stop doing or thinking evil of one another. Let us cease our bitter complainings. Let there be no more jockeying for position or influence or power. There should be but one objective before us to reflect more fully the likeness of our Saviour and to be used more effectively as a humble instrument to help finish the work committed to us. If we occupy our minds with the loveliness of the life of Christ and the glorious prospect of His soon return, our national and racial problems will subside. (See The Desire of Ages, pp. 820, 827.)

Our problems cannot be solved with the use of strong words, emotional outbursts, or destructive actions. The words of the Lord are still relevant: "But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matt. 5:39).

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (chap. 22:37-40).

May God through His grace lead us into the experience of unity that will lead to Pentecost. Only with such unity and such power will the work to which we have dedicated our lives be finished.

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May 1970

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