Steve Macchia Blog

Ironic Timing

Have you ever thought how amazingly ironic it is that Jesus’ great prayer of unity and oneness in John 17 comes immediately before his crossing the Kidron Valley to the olive grove where he would be betrayed, denied, arrested, captured by soldiers, and ushered into the multiple miseries that accompany him at the end of his passion week?

Here in John 17 Jesus is praying for himself, “glorify your Son, that your son may glorify you,”  his disciples, “protect them by the power of your name,”  and all believers, the apex being verse 23, “I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

But within hours of this prayer each phrase would be put to the test. Here Jesus is praying for unity, when in the final few days of his earthly life it would be anything but unity. The confusion on the streets runs rampant, from the high priest to the Roman governor to the crowds and even among the disciples.  Unity? Hardly visible—until his arms are outstretched in love on the cross.

Unity is the central theme of Jesus’ prayer. Unity of the Godhead. Unity among the disciples. Unity for all the believers. Unity. Oneness. Love.

Unity among the believing community. Have we made any significant progress since Jesus gave voice to that prayer 21 centuries ago? It’s never too late. Choose today to be a uniter and not a divider. Make a decision this Lent to unite the faith community right where you live. Build a bridge of love and mercy. Reach out to a leader in another denomination. Pray for those in the church down the street—by name and with sincerity. Invite someone of a different culture or ethnicity to lunch or coffee. Do whatever it takes to fulfill Jesus’ prayer today.

How ironic. How timely. How so like Jesus.

This entry also appears in Conversations Journal Blog.

The United Body of Christ

The Apostle Paul urges the Corinthian Church to be a body. In 1 Corinthians 12, the word is used 17 times. In verse 12 he writes, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.” Unity is the essential ingredient of the body.

How is the body to function as one unit? One body but many parts. God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. All are needed. Weaker parts are indispensable. Special modesty and honor given to those we think are unpresentable parts. No division allowed. Equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers; if one part is honored, every part rejoices. As it should be! But, it so often is not…more disunity in the body than oneness. That’s our true reality.

So, what should be our new norm? Do everything possible to preserve unity and oneness in the Body.

Unity is exhibited in the Body first and foremost in the home. Then, it’s to be expressed in the local church. But, it’s also to be fulfilled in the wider context of the faith community. In what ways is God inviting you to pursue unity in the Body in all of the concentric circles of your relational network of companions? Oneness and unity begin in your heart and mine. But, it doesn’t end there. The goal is unity amidst our diversity…so that the world sees us as ONE. Then and only then will the world know and experience the most excellent way of love…the patient, kind, trusting, hoping, persevering kind of love.

Decide today to contribute tangibly and intangibly to the United Body of Christ. It’s the best choice of all.

On Mission

LTi’s VP, Rick Anderson, and I leave on Friday for our 5th Annual Mission Trip, our 3rd to the former Soviet country of Moldova. We are going to serve alongside Dr. Vitalie Fedula, senior pastor of Jesus Savior Church in the capital city of Chisnau, Moldova. We have thoroughly enjoyed our times in Moldova in past years, and look forward to deepening our relationships with these dear people this coming week.

In addition to speaking at the Sunday morning and evening services at Jesus Savior Church, we will be facilitating a Soul Care Retreat for young leaders (20’s and 30’s), speaking at the chapel service of the local college and seminary, conducting leadership training sessions for local church leaders, addressing young adults at their mid-week service, and spending a lot of time pouring courage and hope into the hearts of leaders and teams.

We will return feeling “good tired” after several days on mission together. Please pray for us as we travel and minister in the name of Jesus. We go with great and growing anticipation that God will multiply the work of our hands and the prayers of our hearts. But, we know that in order to be on mission, we all need to be in prayer.

As you remember us in your prayers, be assured that the Lord will be working powerfully in the building up of his Kingdom and the strengthening of his Church – all for the glory of his Name!

Packing for Lent

Often considered a journey, the season of Lent is a time of preparation for Holy Week when we revisit once again the passion of Christ. We’ve been down that road many years already, but once more we’re invited to a 40 day journey with the destination of the cross and the open tomb before us. It’ important that we travel in community, so we don’t miss the signposts along the way that keep pointing us to Christ and his suffering, death and resurrection in all of our behalf.

Like we do when we prepare for a journey, a bag needs to be prepared and packed. What should we consider bringing along for the journey of Lent? Many options abound, but a few are most worthy of our consideration: self-examination and repentance; prayer and fasting; reading and meditating on God’s Word.

We open ourselves to godly self-examination and repent of that which stands in the way of our attentiveness and obedience. We pray and fast so that our hearts remain in alignment with the voice of God and the incredible sacrifice offered in our behalf. We read and meditate on the Holy Bible as the map and compass for the days ahead…all the details right there at our fingertips.

So, how will you pack for Lent 2011? This Wednesday we step forward into this significant season for Christians worldwide so it’s best to begin planning today. None of us want to miss the poignancy of the journey yet before us. Pack up and join hands as brothers and sisters – let’s walk together into this faith-enriching time of year.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” Psalm 51: 10.