Within the last two weeks we have had two terrible mass killings in our country – one at a bar in California, and the other in a Pittsburgh Jewish Synagogue. Just a year after surviving the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history at a country music festival in Las Vegas, a Navy veteran died when the bullets began flying. In 1956, sixty-two years ago, a deeply in love with each other, beautiful young Jewish couple, Sylvan and Bernice Simon, were married in the same Tree of Life Synagogue in which they died on Sabbath in the deadliest attack on a Jewish community in the history of the U.S.
Sylvan and Bernice Simon were in a loving and nurturing congregation. We are aware that we have the truth and others do not, but Paul says of the Jews that their grafting into salvation will be rather glorious (Romans 11:12; 2Corinthians 3:8). Who among us is still attending Sabbath services in the same hall we used in 1956? Where is our permanence and stability? And, how many of us can remember back to the days when we could have attended Sabbath services in a Church of God congregation anywhere – and felt the welcoming love and friendship of our brethren in every single congregation? Those days are behind us, but they could be ahead for us if…
What kind of world are we living in? The world is becoming a very dangerous place, physically and spiritually. Paul expresses God’s will for His people to come out of this evil world and separate ourselves from it (2Corinthians 6:17). At the same time that we are commanded not to have anything to do with the ungodly ways of this world – we are told to make a difference in this world in various ways. We are told to light our light shine:
Matthew 5:15-16 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Brethren, we could have made an impact on this world over twenty years ago had we handled the break-up of the Church in a Godly manner. Instead, we scattered in countless ways, not even speaking to one another – rather than coming together in a spirit of unity as God commands us to do. We should have been:
Ephesians 4:3-6 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
God knows that we have been given the needed spiritual tools to be able to reunite and recognize each other as brothers and sisters of one faith:
Ephesians 4:2, 7 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love… unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
So, here we sit these many years later in some kind of smug status quo as if the statute of limitations has run out on the togetherness God asks of us. It has not, and God is waiting to see who will act. This is not about Church groups or organizations at all – but rather if we will look past the reasons to be sequestered and cut-off from other members of the Body (1Corinthhians 12:12). We all claim to preach the Gospel while we are declining to follow Christ’s clear instructions to us. Have we forgotten how to demonstrate to this world that we are indeed God’s people?
Let’s go over Jesus’ last words to His Father before He gave His life for us and established His Church on earth. First, Jesus says that we are to be one – not scattered as we are. Then, remarkably, Jesus says that our action of being unified would have sent a clear and vibrant message to the entire world!
John 17:22-23 The glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
Brethren, we could have made the world a better place, but we did not. Instead, we are each going to stand before Jesus and tell Him why we refused to recognize all the brethren as His brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:11):
Romans 14:10, 12 …We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ… So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
God tells us:
Mark 12:31 …You shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater.
Brethren, how nice it would be to dwell in unity as we once did. Let’s realize that we are fast running out of time. Maybe we remember the words to this popular song of the same era.
“Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone? Long time ago
Covered with flowers every one… When will we ever learn?”
||"A Better World"