Andy Stanley Says Christian Unity Is More Than ‘Hey, Can You Put Down Weapons For The Weekend?’

Stanley emphasized that "unity around who is Jesus is preeminent"

Stanley then paraphrased and explained what Christ meant by that prayer: “Father, I pray that they will all be in oneness just like We are in oneness. I pray that they will be in unity together, just like We are in unity together.”

 

Speaking to thousands of Christian leaders gathered for Catalyst Atlanta Oct. 6, prominent evangelical Pastor Andy Stanley said Jesus Christ commanded that cross-cultural unity take precedence over all the minor theological differences that have divided Christ’s followers for centuries.

As over 7,000 church leaders gathered at the Infinite Energy Arena for the 17th annual three-day conference, Stanley, a popular author and senior pastor at North Point Community Church in Georgia, was asked to kick off Thursday morning’s events with an address that touched on the theme of this year’s Catalyst Atlanta, which is “uncommon fellowship.”

According to Stanley, “uncommon fellowship” means “head-turning, jaw-dropping, never-would-have-imagined-that-we-would-see-those-people-together association.”

While there are many theological and cultural differences that continue to separate churches around the world by denomination and race and keep people of different races from coming together in worship and fellowship, Stanley explained that many of the cultural factors that divide the Church today were in place when the early Church was growing and getting its footing during the first century.

Stanley said the makeup of the early Church shows that it actually embodied the essence of “uncommon fellowship,” as Jews, Gentiles, slaves, slave owners, merchants, Roman centurions and others came together to recognize Jesus as the Son of God and Savior.

Stanley told those in attendance that when Jesus prayed for His disciples, He prayed for all His followers in future generations to be one.

“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,” Jesus said, according to John 17.

Stanley then paraphrased and explained what Christ meant by that prayer: “Father, I pray that they will all be in oneness just like We are in oneness. I pray that they will be in unity together, just like We are in unity together.”

“Why, what is at stake? What’s the big deal?” Stanley asked. “Jesus believes that our unity was evangelism. Jesus believed that our ability and willingness to love one another would be the megaphone to the world that God sent Him into the world. It is not a nice-to-have. … It’s not a ‘Hey, can you put down weapons for the weekend? Jesus said that this is mission critical. This isn’t about, ‘Hey kids, get along in the backseat.’ This is about ‘Is this going to work? Is this going to happen?'”

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