What would be the first example of the unity of those called out to assemble with Jesus? What can we learn from it in regard to Church unity today? The very first instances of this unity are described in places like John 1:29-42. There was only one teacher, Jesus. There was only one set of doctrines, the teachings of Jesus. As early as the first apostles, differences appeared. 500 years later east and west were culturally and linguistically divided. 1000 years later that division became the Great Schism. 1500 years later, the western church splintered. Our only hope for recapturing unity is in returning to sit at the feet of the master. Perhaps we already do recapture it momentarily. Mainstream pastors often preach the Gospel text from the lectionary. There we again experience unity at the feet of Jesus.
Whenever there is new territory to be conquered, there are two groups of people awaiting it. The pioneers are early adopters who willingly explore new territory and don’t mind the discomfort of things not completely established. Late adopters are more like settlers, who are willing to take their place after a certain measure of infrastructure has been established. Of course there are people at various stages in between as well. In John 1:29-42 we are introduced to some pioneers of the Christian faith. These were people who willingly changed from the way things were to the new way being heralded by Jesus before there was an established ministry serving growing numbers of congregations. These first few men were the early disciples of Christ. Without visible support, only faith and Jesus as their teacher, they pioneered what we enjoy today. We have forgotten that and gotten stuck in our establishment ruts that divide us.
In John 1:29-42 Jesus is called the Lamb of God (Latin: Agnus Dei). This associates Jesus with the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:1-28; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8). A common phrase used during communion when the bread is broken remembers John the Baptist’s words, “Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.” Revelation refers to the lamb at the throne (5:6-13), opening the seven seals (6:1-16; 8:1), as the shepherd of the nations (7:9-17), triumph in his blood (12:11), the book of life that belongs to him (13:8), celibates who kept themselves pure (14:1-10), a song to be sung (15:3), his victory (17:14), his wedding (19:7-9; 21:9), his city (21:22-27), the river of the water of life (22:1-3). All Christians worship the Lamb of God.
When we the church stop squabbling over politics, power and dogma we may find incredible unity in the one that we all worship.