Christians talk a lot about the things that divide us from other Christians—how our denomination or movement is different from those other denominations or movements; how our beliefs are right and thoroughly justifiable, and those other people haven’t been taught very well; how “scripture clearly says,” in spite of rival claims about what scripture clearly says. We like distinctives, and we can get rather vocal about them.
But what if—just imagine this possibility—we spent time each day and in each worship service praying zealously for the “others”? What if we prayed our hearts out for revival, genuine and repeating moves of God, among Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Charismatics, Independents—or even more generally among Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox—and on and on and on? What if, instead of praying that people would come to our services, we prayed that people would go to theirs and be blessed? Never mind the doctrines you disagree with; genuine revival transforms a lot of doctrine and brings people closer in line with God’s heart. What if, by focusing on differences, we’ve actually made them more deeply entrenched? And what if, by blessing each other, we might actually heal them.
According to the prayers of Jesus (John 17:20-23), this is God’s desire—a much greater desire than that we get all the details of our doctrines right. If we pray for each other to grow closer to the heart of God, a lot of distinctives will disappear, some of them conforming to his truth, others becoming irrelevant. In the kingdom culture, distinctives are not a high priority. Genuine moves of God are. And it’s vital to pray for everyone—across barriers and divisions—to experience them.
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