As I’ve mentioned before, this year’s theme at The Orange Conference 2018 was “One Voice.” The idea behind this is that we can do more when we work together. This thought is applicable to many situations, but there was one that stood out to me more than some others — that we should work together in spite of our differences in theology or other things along those lines.
There are so many different denominations within the church today. And within those denominations, there have been splits based on various levels of disagreements. I don’t even have to go into detail, as I am sure you know exactly what I’m talking about here. And they have the potential to tear us apart over time.
Both Andy Stanley and Louie Giglio had messages around this idea.
In the second main session, Andy said, “When we function is one, the world changes. We know that because, once upon a time, one won.” Even though there were many possible pitfalls, the church still exploded and had a huge impact on the world. He was, of course, speaking about the time of Jesus and the first/early church.
He went on to illustrate this by saying that Jesus modeled oneness, predicted it, prayed about it, and branded it. The early church, then, went on to fight for it. So will we prioritize oneness over all our differences?
Knowing we all have opinions, Andy then said, “We can’t all be right. But, if Jesus is correct, we can all be ONE.” This is huge! It requires humility, but if we can get there, just imagine the possibilities!
Louie Giglio closed out the conference with an amazing talk with a similar message that started out with a statement that went something like, “If everyone were to collectively link our gaze to the risen son of God, it will bring us together.” He went on to really hammer this point down by focusing on the idea that worship is incredibly powerful and used, of all Bible stories, the account of David killing the giant, Goliath.
While many of us have heard this story, Louie bought it to new life, showing how David probably isn’t us but, instead, Jesus. “You’re not David in the story of the David and Goliath,” he said. Going on, he shared how the entirety of Scriptures is all about the story of Christ. God created the heavens and the earth in the beginning, not man. And then we read that all things are made for him and in him all things were made. All of the stories are pointing to Jesus. There’s another hero in the story, and it’s not you or me. It’s Jesus, and he has already finished off all the giants!
When David realized the power that he had with God leading the way, he started to see things from a different vantage point. That’s what led him to do what he did. 1 Samuel 17:45 shows us that David came against Goliath in the name of the Lord Almighty! The stones were basically just the tool. The true hero, the ultimate weapon used was the name of Jesus.
Louie wrapped up by saying that the name of Jesus is both beautiful and powerful, just like the song “What a Beautiful Name” says. Andy said it this way: “One is an invitation to embrace the one thing we all have in common.” That one thing is that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God.
So what could truly happen if the church were to put aside all our differences and focus on this one thing? I’m not saying the differences are unimportant. I’m just suggesting, as both Andy and Louie did, that they are not as important as the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What could it look like if we actually held up Jesus above everything else?
As I told our high schoolers this past Sunday night, I think this is incredibly important for our modern church, the church of the next generation, and any future church. We have to work together, focusing on the things we have in common more than the things that so often divide us. And the biggest thing that we have in common is the beautiful and powerful name of Jesus. We have the shared understanding and hope from his sacrifice and empty tomb. We have the peace and joy from his pledge to come back again and take us home to be with him. We have the promise of his power alive within us.
I don’t know about you, but I really want that to happen! I’m tired of the church fighting and bickering. The world is also tired of it. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why people are not as excited as they should be to join a church. Jesus said in John 13:34-35 that people will know we are his disciples by our love for one another. When we focus on our central commonality of Jesus and tap into the power of that name, there is no telling what God will do through us in spite of our differences.
Side Note: I especially enjoyed Louie Giglio’s message. I even filmed it. After I review the footage, I’ll try to put some clips on my Twitter.
[Photos provided by Sterling Graves.]