Tuesday, May 25, 2010

“Unite in Prayer or Unite in Eucharist?”

While I was driving to the Church this morning after dropping my son at school, I noticed a church sign which read, “Unite in Prayer May 23,” which prompted this blog. As human beings we often speak of unity in various forms such as political unity or family unity. We, as Americans, don’t often speak of unity in terms of prayer…or at least not honestly anyway.

Unity, defined by MS Office dictionary as “the state or condition of being one,” is an expression of ontological reality – unity is a matter of being rather than action or thought. For this very reason we cannot possibly unite in prayer unless we are first united in Jesus Christ. It is the unity of the Church that the Lord Himself desires when He prays:

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17.20-23)
We are united to Jesus Christ, and therefore His Father, in the Eucharist. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in him.” (John 6.56) This real physical unity with Christ is what drives all theology of the Orthodox Church. If unity with Jesus Christ is what unites us to God, then who Jesus Christ IS matters. It is not simply enough to proclaim Jesus Christ; we must be in unity with Him. Jesus Christ didn’t become human to atone for our sins; He became a human being to unite Himself to humanity and restore our fallen human nature to its original glory – communion with God.

Can we unite in prayer to Jesus Christ? It might be better to suggest “Synchronization in Prayer,” since this is what I believe the church I passed on the street meant to say. However that still does not address who the Jesus IS that we are praying to. Muslims believe in a Jesus. Mormons believe in a Jesus. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in a Jesus. Most notably even the devil believes in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. But would we be willing to term any of these groups as Christians? Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7.21)

The reality is there can only be one truth in regard to who Jesus Christ is and whether through the (albeit false) doctrine of sola scriptura or objective Church history, it is clear Jesus declared that unity was only possible in the Eucharist. The Holy Spirit descended upon the Holy Apostles at Pentecost as Comforter and guided the Church “into all truth.” (John 16.13) That original Church still exists today. It is the Orthodox Church who has maintained the teachings and traditions of the Holy Apostles unbroken for two thousand years.

Do you want to unite? Unite first to Jesus Christ and His Church.

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