When looking at photographs of the Earth taken from space, we can be awestruck by our planet’s simplicity. It appears to be a giant peaceful orb, floating in space. Although it is one physical planet, as its inhabitants, we know of its complexities and its deep divisions.
Having recently migrated to Australia from the UK, part of my acclimatization has involved becoming familiar with a new driving culture. There were a number of road signs which grabbed my attention. In particular, there was one that had been graced with graffiti. In the cover of darkness…
What a good idea — form one planet! This of course is God’s plan for the earth, to unite all people together. It will be a time to throw away passports, forget visa requirements, and abolish immigration policy. Sometimes in life we can lose track of this amazing promise of unity. Let’s consider the words David recorded in one of his Psalms:
“All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you…” (Psa 22:27).
No geographic area or nationality is to be excluded from the Kingdom of God. Jesus has ransomed people for God from every tribe, language, people, and nation (Rev 5:9). Let’s not forget that all these nationalities came from just one man. From one man the Almighty made every nation of men (Acts 17:26).
Have you ever wondered why God initially created one man? He could have certainly populated the entire planet in an instant. This of course is a spiritual lesson developed in Scripture; it is God’s intention “to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” (Eph 1:10; cp Gen 1:26-28; Psa 8:6).
The theme of these words is unity, oneness. Having considered this on a global scale, let’s go beyond. Unity can be our objective in the ecclesia, in our family, in our relationships, and fundamentally in our individual lives. Is our life divided? Are we fractured into many different parts? Who are we when we meet with our family in the Lord, compared to when we are at home, school, or work, or when we are alone?
As humans we have a habit of compartmentalizing our lives. I used to sort mail in a large facility in Glasgow, Scotland. Like most major cities, Glasgow is neatly divided into numerous smaller areas and post codes for the convenience of the postmen. It can be dangerous if our lives are just as conveniently divided. In the process, we might mistakenly elevate “ecclesial life” and duties above everything else, when our focus of love and service to God and each other should extend to all parts of our life.
What about the Lord Jesus? Was he any less a servant of God when he was resting or eating? We are one person before God. We fracture and divide our lives at our own risk. Consider the words of Christ:
“Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls…” (Luke 11:17).
Notice how the area of the Lord’s focus is reduced in size. First he mentions a kingdom, and then a divided household. The next step, which he leaves for us, is the individual. If we find that our lives are fragmented or divided, Jesus is saying that we risk a fall or being laid waste. Similarly, James in his letter describes the double-minded man, the man who is divided and thus unstable in all his ways (James 1:8).
God wants us to live an open honest life, with nothing hidden. For the Almighty can surely see us in our entirety, regardless of how much we may try to cloak and conceal. We must break the man-made distinctions and barriers so as to create a life of complete dedication. When asked which commandment was the most important, Jesus said:
“The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:28-31).
This passage is sometimes quoted incompletely. It may be used as an argument against the trinity. It may be used to encourage us to serve God and each other in love. Both elements are true, but when put together, we have a strong message of unity. Our God is one, so we should be one! Our love should involve all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. What is left? So, let’s live for God.
“Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.”
It may seem like a huge task, to bring our whole life before God. The first steps involve self-examination: opening ourselves up to let light shine into every dark corner. Only then can we see what needs to be changed. God has given us a wonderful way to come before Him with openness and sincerity, and that is through prayer.
We have to pray and share everything with God, especially every fault and weakness. Can you identify any problems or temptations that you haven’t prayed to God about? It is often the things we are reluctant to sacrifice that we are reluctant to bring to our Lord in prayer.
It is only by putting our whole life before God in prayer that we can begin to dedicate it to Him. How can we love with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, if we’re holding something back? Parents often ask their children, “What did you learn at school today?” which usually merits a minimal response. Are we as shy when sharing with our Heavenly Father? Parents aren’t just interested in some parts of their child’s life; they are interested in every single aspect. So it is with our Father in heaven.
Remembering the one Lord
We have been asked to remember our Lord Jesus Christ. He is our perfect example. Jesus was not divided; he was the same to beggars, children, rich people, and kings. He shared everything with God: his triumphs, his lows, his faith, and his sorrows. In Psalm 22 we have an insight into Christ’s prayer on the cross. As we read it we are torn with angst for the anguish of our Lord:
“For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet — I can count all my bones — they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots” (Psa 22:16-18).
The Lord Jesus does not hold anything back from the Almighty (see verses 1 and 2 of this psalm), and neither should we. Have you ever wondered why there is a focus on the clothing of Jesus at the crucifixion? There are surely other details omitted, and we know that every word is precious and insightful in God’s Word.
If we look to the gospels we find more detail which delivers a powerful message about Jesus. The soldiers were distributing his clothes among themselves (John 19:23,24), thus befitting their description in Psalm 22 as dogs and evildoers. What a terrible, humiliating experience. The contrast is startling. The soldiers had their minds fixed on material things, whilst above them Jesus overcame sin for our salvation.
We can picture the soldiers arguing over the four parts of clothing, bickering and snatching. What was left could not be divided. What did the soldiers gamble over? It was a seamless tunic, woven in one piece from top to bottom. This is frequently mentioned as suggesting the garment worn by the high priest (Exod 28:32). As a symbol of holiness, it was not to be torn (Lev 21:10). So with Christ, our great high priest: his garment of holiness remained intact. In complete contrast, what happened during the Lord’s trial? The high priest, acting as judge, tore his own garment (Mark 14:63).
For us today, the seamless robe is a symbol of the Lord Jesus Christ; a dedication of life. It was complete. He couldn’t be diminished or reduced. He couldn’t be torn into parts. He was whole. There were no fractions or divisions. Jesus loved the Father and us with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength.
The sacrifice of Jesus seen in its entirety, life and death and resurrection, has saved us and brought us together. He will unite the world. We pray and seek strength to honestly examine ourselves, to break down walls and barriers in our lives, and to live in unity. We are encouraged to dedicate our lives, in their entirety, to our Father and the service of our Lord Jesus Christ.