“One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do/ One is the loneliest number, worse than two” These words from the group Three Dog Night ring out so true for the society today. We are lonely. There is a loneliness around us that we just can’t handle. It’s a loneliness that we just don’t know what to do with nor how to express it. But there is a loneliness out there. We find it in social media. We see it on Twitter. People are disconnected more than before. It used to be when you’d call someone up you didn’t want to get that blasted answering machine, you wanted to talk to a real person. Now it’s a struggle to want to talk to someone when it’s easier to text or leave a voice mail and play phone tag.
But what does this have to do with the church? The church is filled with lonely lost people. Lonely people who are disconnected from one another and from themselves. Lonely people who come in searching for something greater than themselves, seeking a relationship that goes beyond physical but spiritual.
One is the loneliest number. It makes us feel like we’re an island. Sometimes we place ourselves into that role, thinking we can do it on our own. Thinking we can go forward by ourselves.
But that’s not true. We need each other. The church needs each other. And when the church understands that it needs each other, it shows the love of God and is a witness to the world around it that the church is one.
Jesus prayed for this. He prayed that the church might be one
“I pray…for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:20-21
Jesus’ desire was for the church to be one. Now, I’m not talking about unity for unity’s sake. Jesus wanted us to be one together as He and the Father were one yet distinct. Jesus is the Son of God and is God Himself. He is the second person of the Trinity (okay, to try to explain the Trinity in a short blog post is hard enough, just smile and nod and go along with what I’m sayin’ here). He is distinct yet the same with God. This is what he wants with us as the church. The same yet distinct. The same yet different. The same yet one in Jesus, who makes the body of the church and is its head. (Dude, some awesome theological stuff here I wish I could dive deeper into).
As the uniting church, we strive forward to help others proclaim the coming kingdom of God. We strive together to be sanctified sanctifiers as the sanctifying church. We live together to help others become reconciled to God through Christ by our actions and words.
How do we do this? Remember, you are an apostolic witness. What in the world did I just say? Apostolic, means one who is sent, commissioned, one who is a messenger. You are a witness to the great things of Jesus. You are sent by Him as He is sent by the Father. The church is sent by Him as He was sent by the Father. And as living as the uniting church, we live together as a cohesive apostolic witness, messengers of the gospel.
The church unites when it is a witness to the world that Jesus lives. He is alive! And we who are in the church are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord. We are one. And we are that witness to being One. And we unite together as one.
Also, we’re to be Jesus to others. This is a concrete spirituality. This is a concrete way of thinking. We want to be spiritual but don’t always know how to. This is a spiritual age. People are looking for something more in their lives. They are looking for more to what is around them. And Jesus offers that. And when we are one, we show a concrete spirituality that allows us to live as one in Jesus. We show that true spirituality comes from being Jesus to others. As we live as Jesus, we become one with Jesus and one with each other.
The church is to be a uniting force in this world. Uniting us together with one another. One is the loneliest number when we’re alone. And when we’re alone we’re strangers. But when we’re one together, it is not lonely but personal. It is personal because you become one with Jesus. Distinct as he is distinct but one with Him as He is one with the Father.
Live united with Jesus. Live united with the body of Christ. And when you do, you’ll see that you’ll never be alone again. As we live as the uniting church, we live together as one.