You could not have asked for a better day for an event such as this one. The sun was shining brightly overhead, yet we were kept cool by the shade of the many trees. The birds were chirping, and the flowers were in bloom.
Days like this testify to their creator. The American Legion set the tone of this year’s National Day of Prayer service with presentation of the colors. This was followed by little Elyssa Robinson proudly standing on a stool in her red dress, leading the church in the Pledge of Allegiance. No one from this group left out the term “under God.” The sounds of the guitar were overshadowed by the many voices singing in unison. With hands lifted high, those in the church praised God. Proclamations from our elected officials were read, followed by the prayers of local pastors and interrupted by the occasional “amen.” Perhaps the most significant event was an unexpected one. The leaders of he faith community were called forward to be prayed over.
From behind, I heard Pastor Pat say, “Let’s link up.” That is exactly what was being accomplished at the Capitol steps during the National Day of Prayer service. The church of Carson City was linking up. This is something the people of Carson City do not get to witness enough.
Jesus has called us to link up. It is this type of unity that He wanted from His followers. Divisions often are a side-effect of our own selfishness — a need to feel right in areas that often are nonessential. We might never be able to agree on everything, but as was demonstrated, the church can have the type of unity the Bible speaks of. This is accomplished when Christ is lifted up and not the individual. It happens as people who are united by the gospel message bring glory to the son. This in turn brings glory to the father, and speaks loudly to the world around us.
It is the world that is most affected when the church is united. Consider the impact we could make if this were the case. The message of the cross would be made clear, not limited by local church boundaries but proclaimed in the public square. This is by far the most important effect because real change begins in a relationship with Christ.
People would no longer be able to point to our differences as source of their indecision, but instead consider the Christian message no longer diluted by disagreements. Our joining would increase the churches influence in the public arena, and perhaps bring real change to the country’s moral dilemma. This is what Jesus spoke about when He said, “You are the light of the world.” Disunity dims the light that the church is capable of producing.
There are, however, some fundamental issues about which the church must remain unwavering in its stance. Christ is our cornerstone, and although this truth will cause men to stumble, it cannot be compromised. Salvation is found in no other name; this truth must remain absolute. Fundamental principles such as these provide a place for the church to unite and take its stand. We may feel as if maintaining a firm stance on such issues will hinder some form excepting Christ; however, the Bible says when Jesus is lifted up, He will draw all men to Him.
In the end, events like the National Day of Prayer serve to remind the local church that we are not in competition, but that we are links in the same chain. We are united in purpose and work toward the same goal: to preach the gospel, to baptize, and to teach others to obey His commands. Divisions in the churches limit our effectiveness and take glory away from Christ. However, when the local church can set aside its disagreements in order to proclaim Christ, that community will be affected and our prayer will be answered. I would like to personally thank those pastors who worked together on this year’s event; it truly was a success.
Micheal Hurlbert is the pastor of Carson City’s First Christian Church.