Editor’s note: This series is taken from a talk given by a Chinese theological teacher and trainer at a conference in Hong Kong in 2014. It has been edited from transcriptions of the original talk. Make sure you check back tomorrow and next week for the whole series!
Brothers and sisters, peace to you. Today, my topic is “Truth and Unity.”
All of us have different life experiences and different habits, such as my [habit of losing my socks]. When I get up tomorrow morning, [I will face] an unfortunate situation – where are my socks? They easily get lost, thrown to two different corners [of the room], and then when you aren’t careful, they disappear. The whole world is looking for this one thing. But in life, I’ve also realized that I have two legs, and even though they are separated [and I need two socks], my pants hold them together.
There is an irony to how truth and unity relate to each other. Our experience tells us that we often see truth and unity go in the direction of socks. They separate, unlike pants where truth and unity are joined together. By the time we decide to separate, it is already too late. We are already separated.
Jesus Christ is the head of the church and whenever his disciples asked about unity, he never separated unity and truth. Jesus became the great high priest, and in John 17:17, it says very clearly that he prays for us. “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” He then said that [his disciples] should be unified as our Father and the son, Jesus Christ, are one. Our Holy Father and the Holy Son are one, and the church is in the Trinity.
But we keep ending up like socks. Regarding truth and unity, we are constantly distracted. We say we are a part of [a certain church movement], part of the Chinese church in Hong Kong, or in Taiwan, or Malaysia, or Indonesia, or any of the many churches in Asia. But in actuality, we are all in one universal church. Do we make an effort concerning how we regard truth and unity? Do we regard them as socks or as pants? When truth and unity are inseparable, firmly together, only then can we expect the gospel to bring about an ongoing revival in the church and in the city.
Consider Ephesians 4. This is the classic scriptural teaching on unity. Do you expect the Chinese church to be able to follow the instructions in Ephesians 4? To be able to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace?” In the end one fact remains: we are united together in one body, in one Spirit, in one hope, in one Lord, one faith, one baptism, with one God. Understanding this in principle is not actually hard – but in practice, what do we do? Today, this is the church’s challenge. We all find ourselves facing the same challenge whether we are in different local churches, inside the same church, a part of churches from different cities, or churches from the East and West.
The gospel is far reaching in order to give us grace to protect this unity. In God’s holy scriptures, especially the Old Testament, there are a lot of applicable stories to refine us and exhort us on how to actually bring truth into unity and unity into truth. We can look forward to the Holy Spirit working in us and encouraging us toward eternal revival.
I firmly believe today that the Holy Spirit still remains, and God will lead us with the holy Trinity – Holy Father, Holy Son, and Holy Ghost – unified together. Within the universal church’s foundation, the gospel kingdom, and from our various denominations, we depend on the truth of the gospel so that the Holy Spirit will protect our unity. If the power of God’s gospel is in China, in Asia, on this Earth, it is like three people testifying to what has been said. The gospel has entered China; it is in China; and it will go out of China.
Lord, we love you. It is because you first loved us. Lord, you are the united God, Holy Trinity. Lord, we have obtained this unity in hope of the glory, in heaven and on earth, that all authority is given to you. So that when the church is your discipler of the people, it reflects that God is embodied in union with Christ. So we ask you, Lord, to bring this unity and truth into our united presence and reality. Hear our prayers. Bless our time. In Jesus Christ’s name.