This time of January is the traditional time to pray for Christian unity. Jesus did this at the Last Supper. You might even call it one of his dying wishes.
Today, the Christian church is far from unified. Searching about this unity online brings up a lot of material about why unity is not a particularly good thing. As well as some divisive material on both sides of the political spectrum.
Weird, isn’t it? I myself have experienced hateful behavior from other Christians who view issues differently than I do. Surely this is not what Jesus wants for us, especially when everyone in the disagreement is sure that Jesus is on their side.
What Martin Luther King Can Teach Us
Recently, I attended a Vineyard USA workshop on principles and practices that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used as the core of the civil rights movement. This was a nonviolent movement, so much so that Dr. King told people who couldn’t promise to remain nonviolent to stay away. His “10 Commandments” of nonviolence offered me inspiration for dealing with the divisive nature of today’s Christianity:
- Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.
- Remember always that the non-violent movement seeks justice and reconciliation – not victory.
- Walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.
- Pray daily to be used by God in order that all men might be free.
- Sacrifice personal wishes in order that all men might be free.
- Observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.
- Seek to perform regular service for others and for the world.
- Refrain from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart.
- Strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.
- Follow the directions of the movement and of the captain on a demonstration.
If we follow these rules (which King insisted that even nonChristians in the movement do), we will find it much easier to approach each other as Christians.
Pray for Christian Unity
Then we can truly pray for Christian unity. I’ve adapted this prayer from “Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers.”
Oh Lord, help me to speak and behave in Christian love with all who claim you as Savior. Give me the grace to have courtesy and refrain from violence of tongue, heart, fist and online behavior. We pray to you for your holy Christian church in my own neighborhood and around the world. Help us to accomplish reconciliation. Fill the church with your presences and your truth. Keep it in your peace. Where it is corrupt, reform it. Where it is in error, correct it. Where it is right, defend it. Where it is in want, provide for it. Where it is divided, reunite it. For the sake of your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.