Sunday Services at 10:00am
1155 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)
This past week, I spent five days in Hartford with 100 middle and high school students as part of The Hartford Project, learning about life in Hartford, serving the city, and worshiping God in community. It was an incredible time, and there is much that I could say about it, but the one aspect I found to be the most unique was the diversity represented in this mission. The 100 students came from eleven different churches, from Catholic to Pentecostal and everything in between. Some churches were urban, some suburban, and some rural. They came from every ethnic and racial background. And they were led and taught by men and women, young and old, all using their gifts to preach the gospel and serve the city in the name of Christ.
Now, as you can imagine, with such a diversity of backgrounds, I did not find myself on board with everything that was taught or singing along with the lyrics of every song during worship time. There is a reason we have so many different denominations, because there is so much on which we can disagree. But to the credit of The Hartford Project, the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ was central, the need for evangelism was stressed, and the importance of loving our neighbor as ourselves was paramount. As much as there might have been to disagree about, I saw a remarkable unity around the call to love God, love our neighbor, and make disciples.
The question of when to unify and when to divide is a challenging one for believers. We know that Jesus prayed in John 17:20-21 that “My prayer is not for them alone. 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.” Clearly, unity among believers is a critical piece to our witness and something to strive for. At the same time, Jesus sharply disagreed with the religious leaders of his time, and almost every New Testament letter contains warnings against false teachers and admonitions to not associate with them. The unfortunate truth is that true unity is not possible when two churches or believers cannot even agree upon the essential message of the gospel. However, my experience with The Hartford Project showed me how God blesses His children when they make an effort to set aside their disagreements on secondary matters in order to unite for the cause of making disciples and loving our neighbor. May God give us His wisdom and discernment as we seek to unify around the gospel for the sake of the world.