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October 6, 2020, 9:00 AM

Back in November of 2017, I received a phone call. The chairperson of the pastoral search committee joyfully exclaimed, “Kevin, we voted unanimously! We’re calling you to be our next pastor!” Upon hearing the chairperson’s words, it all became very real. Over the next twenty-four months, the thin sheen of superficial accord among church members evaporated and flaked away bit by miserable bit.

As it turned out, the only things most people within the church had in common were their bitterness and discontent.

Family after family left for what seemed absolutely bizarre reasons: change of service time, decorations, the music, a lack of recognition, too much recognition, nobody noticed I was gone, moving game night, moving tables, moving the piano, letting a homeless family live in our vacant ministry house, not asking what color I wanted… and the most ironic of all - people actually left our congregation when asked to sign our Unity Pledge (a simple document simply stating we all agree to live in Gospel-community according to biblical truth to adorn Jesus as King).

Throughout that two-year pruning process, we had very few visitors, very few baptisms, very few new families stick around - nevermind many expressing a desire to join our church family. Our numbers dwindled.

“He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, and every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes to make it even more fruitful.” -John 15:2

Despite COVID, our church has seen exponential growth in recent months. That’s no attestation to my (less than) stellar leadership or holiness. Instead, it’s a testament to God’s faithfulness and lovingkindness; His ability to use a lowly donkey to carry the King. When I say, “exponential growth,” many might erroneously assume I’m referring to the numerical variety. I am not.

We are seeing our church family grow in the faith and knowledge of Christ as faithful and contributing members of His Body (Eph 4:13). We are seeing people grow in the desire and reality of considering others as superior to self (Phil 2:3). We are seeing people grow in legitimate power - not the speaking in tongues, casting out demons, walking on water variety, but the power of our abandon unto Christ, thus experiencing desperate dependency and true UNITY in Jesus our King.

Jesus said our unity in Him would be our testimony to a lost and dying world. He said our UNITY in Him would be the light of life shining into sin’s prison to emancipate our brothers and sisters still imprisoned therein. The King of Eternity said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…” -Acts 1:8

Not you might. Not you may. Not there’s a good chance. King Jesus said, “You will…”

Paul admonishes us to examine ourselves to see whether or not our faith is legitimate. He challenges us to see if Christ Jesus is truly in us (2 Cor 13:5). It’s not a test of what words we’ve said (equating to magical incantations), what religious ceremonies we’ve participated in (salvation by works), how much money we’ve given (buying a stairway to heaven), or how often we attend.

The exclusive determination of whether we pass “the test" of faith is exposed in our testimony of humble, gentle, joyful, patient, and loving UNITY within the Bride and Body of Christ.

There are certainly essential biblical truths and uncompromising doctrines: If your Jesus is a grapefruit… or Satan is merely a cosmic symbol of evil… No. We’re absolutely NOT pitching universalism’s lie of “All roads lead to heaven.” But beyond the essential, fundamental, biblical truths, any group or denomination claiming to have “cornered the market” of Christian purity at the exclusion of all others exposes foolishness and sin-riddled folly.

The power of the Holy Spirit is one of unyielding UNITY in Christ as His multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, eclectic, and diverse Bride. It neither embraces religious universalism nor prigish exclusivism.

“Many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! Did we not…” (have purer doctrine in Your name, bigger buildings in Your name, support more missionaries in Your name, more campuses in Your name, a better worship band in Your name, and nicer bathrooms in Your name, a cooler preacher in Your name, better streaming videos in Your name) “...prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you evildoers!’” -Matt 7:21-23

“I (Jesus) am not asking on behalf of them (Disciples) alone, but also on behalf of those who will believe in Me through their message (us!), that all of them may be one... perfectly united, so that the world may know that You sent Me and have loved them just as You have loved Me.” -John 17:20-23

Passing "the test" of faith in Christ looks like POWER! It's an unyielding, unwavering UNITY as humble and serving members of His Body and Bride. The true Church isn't a denomination, it's a kingdom of people born-again by the Spirit who truly considers others superior to ourselves.


-Pastor Kevin