What would you tell a mom and dad desiring to spread the faith to their kids? Or what do you think is the key to passing on your faith to friends at work? We often believe that the secret is a winsome presentation of the gospel, or having good answers to the tough questions, apologetics and such. And to be sure, we need to present the gospel as clearly as possible. Certainly, we need to try to provide people with answers to their questions.
But Jesus said that there is something about love and unity between Christians that helps people see that our faith is real and true. For instance, in John 17:23, Jesus prays to His heavenly Father that His followers “may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me.” (emphasis mine)
Paraphrase: Jesus said, “If you are unified, people will know that I am from God.”
So Frances Schaeffer called love…the final apologetic. Apparently, if you get everything else right – if you prove that Jesus is God, and you prove that the Bible is true, and you show conclusively that Jesus rose from the dead, but you miss love and unity, apparently it’s very hard for the world to see that Jesus came from the Father. This makes sense, because after all, true evangelism is Spirit-driven.
This is why Paul was so concerned about the Philippians having the same mind…about unity at Philippi, because unity is…huge. So Paul wrote:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Philippians 2:1-2 (ESV)
Unity was a big deal to Paul because the spread of the gospel was a big deal to Paul – this comes out in Philippians chapter 1, where Paul writes about those preaching with wrong motives – “But what does it matter, the important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached, and because of this I rejoice.” (Philippians 1:18 NIV) You see, Paul just wanted the gospel out, by hook or by crook, and even if you were preaching it with wrong motives, he didn’t care.
But get this – since Paul was so fired up about spreading the gospel, he was fired up about unity and love.
A clear application is in the home: Moms and dads, as you want to pass on the faith to your kids, you probably already know the basics – read the Word with them, and pray with them, and make church attendance a priority, etc. But in the midst of all you’re doing, do something else: Do your best to get along, to love one another, and when you fight, as Diane and I did (ahem, sometimes still do!), yes, even in front of the kids at times, then make up in front of them too.
And, by the way, you are divorced, please don’t lose heart – for praise God, He moves in every situation. But do your best to treat your ex-spouse lovingly and kindly now.
Because as strange as it may seem, your marital unity is one of the biggest ways that your kids are going to see…that Jesus is Lord, that Jesus has really come from the Father.
For tomorrow, Thursday, August 6th: Philippians 3