By Chuck Klein
The word “together” can trigger a whole lot of images in people’s minds.
But one image that will stick with me a long time was what I saw on the National Mall in Washington DC on July 16, 2016.
The crowd was massive, on the young side, people from every race, many standing, some sitting in what was later described as oppressive heat. But for most the heat didn’t seem to bother them, solely because their attention was on something else – the leaders on stage who were pointing everyone toward Jesus Christ.
It was called Together 2016. It started at 9AM with a passionate appeal from the Word to prepare ourselves with a clean heart for a fresh start – the focus was on repentance and confession. From there we were led into corporate prayer, and then Michael W. Smith took us into “This is the air I breathe …” That cemented the spirit of the day, and you could sense it across the audience. Together we would lift up Christ and declare our dependence upon Him. And together we would leave that place to share the love and truth of Jesus with a nation and a student world deeply fractured by fear, hate, and for many an acute sense of hopelessness. Together, we could “reset” our world.
The day, though it ended early because of the heat, was not like anything I have experienced in other events. Through our seven hours together a picture was developing of what it can mean to be united under Christ alone.
You couldn’t escape the power of this enormous audience, comparing it to the image Jesus painted in John 17… “I pray also 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. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Can you think of anything the world needs more than a spot-on knowledge of God’s love and truth? And the very thing that is preventing that from happening, according to Jesus, is “oneness” in the Body of Christ.
So it would seem that the healing of a fractured nation has to begin with the healing of a fractured Church. We would all agree that in His Word we have every bit of wisdom and direction we need to shape our unity in Christ, and in Him alone. Yet, too often we have allowed our methods, our race, social status, pride, competitiveness, and a periphery of personal preferences to override the Word of God and undermine unity.
But I see something changing.
It’s what we saw on the National Mall … people sensing that we have reached the tipping point where the challenge is so great and the need so deep that it is driving us to where Christ has always wanted us to be: UNITED, fixing our hope only on Him.
When we are unified around Jesus and His great Cause, He receives the glory, not us as individuals, but Christ. And when Jesus receives the glory the world sees and has the opportunity to believe, not in us or our organization, our church or our community, but in Him.
So what can each of us do to advance unity?
Is it something we should correct within our own church or organization? Is it relationships between churches, organizations, among races, amid families, between individuals? Is it forgiveness, humility, restitution, inclusion, acceptance? Where is the crack in oneness that God is calling you to act on and help repair? The window of opportunity to unite the Body of Christ and reset the lives of many across our world is still open.
Francis Chan, near the close of the event, keenly reminded us of the very real spiritual battle that rages and the challenges with it that lie ahead. The imprint that Together 2016 left on me is that… Oneness in Christ is God’s supreme weapon for advancing His Gospel to every community and every person. Philippians 1:27 (TLB) “… remember always to live as Christians should … standing side by side with one strong purpose – to tell the Good News.”
Chuck Klein directs the Campus Alliance, a coalition of churches and organizations that share the mission of reaching out to every secondary student in America.