I Peter 4:12-14,5:6-11
One of the few things that Jesus told us to not do is to try to figure out when he was coming back. And so, one of the things that Christians have done most (at least in America back in the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st), is to try to figure out when he was coming back. It is a waste of time, and has always ended in embarrassment or worse.
One of the things that Jesus does want us to do is to be one as he and the Father are one. And so, one of the things that Christians have done most is to split apart from each other (at least organizationally). What is wrong with us?
Well, maybe we are not all that bad. There have been some notable mergings of Christian denominations in the past century: Evangelical Lutheran Church In America, United Methodist Church, United Church of Christ, United Church of Canada, Church of South India, and the closer ties between the Episcopal Church and the ELCA. Nonvisible, unofficial church unity is not doing too bad in some spots: the guest ministry, Confraternity, and Oblate program here at St. Gregory’s are examples of that, as are the many “emerging church” activities around the world. But even with all that, those denominations just mentioned are constantly having members leave to form new churches in reaction to things going on in those denominations.
It is usually the case that denominations that tend toward openness to other denominations are much less prone to spend a lot of time trying to figure out when Jesus is coming back. Some might say that is because those denominations are wishy-washy in their beliefs about Jesus. I do not think that is the case. I think that more likely, it is because they are actually doing what the disciples did after Jesus physically left them: praying and waiting for power from the Holy Spirit.
Maybe we wait too much, or are timid to use the tremendous power of the Holy Spirit that has already been given us. We can use it for so many things other than figuring out when Jesus will come back – feeding the hungry, healing the sick, raising the dead. We can all do it together, and when we do, we are united in a far deeper way than denominational record books can show.
All we have to do is stop staring into the sky, go home and pray, and then act in the power we have been given. We are one because Jesus is one. AMEN