“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
When Jesus chose the twelve individuals whom He called Apostles, He really did pick a motley crew. Matthew was a tax collector, someone who came from a profession that was almost universally despised by the Jewish people because of their reputation for extortion and corruption. They often charged more tax than required by Roman law, and then they pocketed the difference.
On the opposite end of the spectrum was Simon the Zealot. The zealots were a group who were committed to the overthrow of Roman rule by whatever means necessary, including armed insurrection.
And sort of in the middle were Andrew and John. They were followers of John the Baptist, but when Jesus came on the scene, John the Baptist pointed them toward Jesus’ ministry. And they began to follow Jesus instead.
Tradition tells us that -- with the exception of Judas – every one of the Apostles became persons of tremendous influence within their respective communities. We might wonder how Jesus was able to pull together such a diverse band of followers, and then build them up to the point where they were able to change the world through their ministry.
If we look closely at Jesus’ actions throughout the Gospels, we see that He was a servant leader who always led by example. He modeled through His own actions and behavior all of the values and beliefs about which He preached and taught. And He loved the people – all of the people. Even those who disagreed with Him, as well as those who despised and/or hated Him. Jesus’ actions and behavior clearly made an impact on everyone around Him.
Toward the end of His ministry, in the Upper Room, Jesus prayed what is often called His High Priestly Prayer (John 17). And a central component of that prayer was that all of His followers would be one, as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are One.
Unity – Oneness – is not to be confused with uniformity, or sameness. Each of the Apostles were unique individuals, with their own personalities, interests and priorities in life. That was true both before and after the Resurrection.
But over time, their journey walking with Jesus caused them to reorder their priorities, as well as to reevaluate many of their values and beliefs. They focused their efforts on their common future of working together to bring salvation to as many people as possible.
Their common bond was the Holy Spirit, who draws all people to God. And the same is true for followers of Jesus today. There is unity and peace that flows from the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives; the Spirit enables us to live and work together as one. And in this there is tremendous power – power that is waiting to be tapped and used to fulfill the mission that Christ has given us all – to seek and to save those who are lost.
In His peace,
Pastor John Frank ><>