November 2012

Body: 

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”   John 13:34                                                                                   

The 1974 Lausanne Covenant lifted up the vision of the whole church sharing the whole gospel in the whole world. As UUC responds to our Lord’s call to offer practical theology and church leader training in many languages for people all over the world, this Lausanne vision is a powerful encouragement. During the next three monthly devotions for our UUC “first Monday” prayer time, I would like us to reflect together on the three parts of this vision. In November, I would like us to think and pray about the “whole church.”

UUC has never had a denominational affiliation. Our vision has always been to offer theological education and leadership training to every student who wants to study with us. We do not accept or reject students based on what part of the Lord’s church they serve. We do not judge denominational doctrines. Our vision is to welcome students from the whole variety of denominations as well as those without denominational affiliation. As our mission grows, we also want to insure that our faculty represents a variety of denominational and non-denominational teachers. In other words, we desire to embrace the whole church of Jesus, we want to serve the whole church of Jesus in all its variety.

Unfortunately, as we all know, the desire for unity in the whole church has not historically been the attitude that prevails in the Church. Instead denominations have been quick to judge and condemn each other.  Cooperation has been too rare; antagonism and even bearing false witness against one another has been too common. This disunity, this disregard for the wellbeing of Christians who are not part of our particular section of the church, has severely weakened the Church’s work.  People who are not Christians hear and see us judging each other and conflicting with each other, and they are not drawn to the truth of the gospel. They hear us say that God is love, and they watch us not loving each other.

As a theological school, we want to be among those in the Church who believe in and teach respect, love and unity among all the followers of Jesus. We want to encourage a worldwide love for each other as followers of Jesus, no matter what church we belong to.

Personally I believe that this attitude of respect and commitment to the whole family of Jesus is extremely important to the Lord. His “new commandment” recorded in John 14:34 asked something greater than that we should love each other. He asked that we should love each other as he has loved us. The love that Jesus himself extends to us—that is the love we are to extend to every other Christian person. It must be painful to the Lord to see judgment, suspicion, jealousy and rivalry between different denominations and parts of the whole church.

What the Lord wants instead is for the world to see and know that we are his disciples because they see his love living in us. And while his love is for the whole world, it begins at home, in the whole family of Jesus, in the whole church.

As we spend time in intercessory prayer next Monday, let us commit ourselves again, as members of the UUC community, to love and support, to educate and empower students who come to us from any and every part of the church. Let us pray for the whole church to love one another, that our witness to the world might be believed.  Also remember our students, our graduates and their congregations, our faculty and our administrators. Pray for our Board of Directors, who meet on November 6th.  And our staff, working hard to prepare for the accreditation process.  Remember those you know in our community who are sick, suffering or weak. And give thanks to the Lord for the calling we share from Him to serve the whole church around the world.

 

Dale Sewall, President

Union University of California