Question: Christians all love and serve the same God. Does it really matter if we don't all agree on our beliefs?
My wife and I were expecting our fourth little one when a problem arose, we went to emergency, and things suddenly progressed to the worst. As my wife and I sat weeping, several people around us spontaneously gathered in fervent prayer, laying their hands on my wife's stomach and asking Jesus to take care of my wife, our little one, and me.
God showed me something very important at that difficult moment.
These good and prayerful people were not Catholic, but unquestionably they were devout Christians with a great love for Jesus and their neighbour.
If it was the same God Whom we all loved and served, did it really matter that we disagreed on some teachings of Jesus? I reflected on this, and then it hit me with blinding clarity. Yes, it mattered! But why?
The most obvious reason is because Jesus has commanded it. In the "Great Commission" (Mt 28), Jesus tells the apostles to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all that He has commanded. All!
In Jn 17:20-23, Jesus is in the upper room with the apostles after instituting the Eucharist. He prays to His Heavenly Father for the apostles and for all who will come to believe in Him. This is the very last teaching He will leave the apostles before He is arrested and crucified. It is of critical importance.
With His eyes raised to heaven, Jesus prays "for those who will believe in Me through their word, so that they may all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
"And I have given them the glory You gave Me, so that they may be one, as We are one, I in them and You in Me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that You sent Me, and that You loved them even as You loved Me."
Jesus twice says that the world will come to believe that the Father sent Him through the unity it sees in His followers. This is profound! This is truly the heart of evangelization: that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son.
The unity Jesus speaks of here is not just a whimsical, "close-enough" sort of unity. He describes it as perfect unity, the same unity that He has with the Father.
Does it matter whether we know and follow all that Jesus commanded, and that all Christians are united in the same beliefs? Unquestionably yes! The faith of an unbelieving world depends on it. The world must be scandalized by the contradictory beliefs, infighting, and lack of unity it sees among Christians today.
Does it matter whether you've been baptized? Without question. Jesus commanded it. What about the Eucharist? Jesus says, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you" (Jn 6:53).
What about the Pope, the Blessed Mother, good works, confession, abortion, divorce and remarriage, purgatory, contraception, shopping on Sunday, and dozens of other important issues? Does it matter what we believe regarding all these things?
Absolutely! Jesus has taught on every one of them, and true Christian unity is at stake.
This is why Jesus left us the Church, and not just the Bible alone. The fruit of following "the Bible alone" has been utter Christian disunity, to the tune of 50,000 plus denominations, all with their own set of beliefs, many of them both important and contradictory.
True Christian unity resides in following all of Jesus's teachings, revealed through the Church He left us, the Church He founded on the Rock, on Peter, and on the apostles, the Church to which He entrusted His truths and to which He sent the Holy Spirit as guide, the Catholic Church of which Jesus spoke when He said, "He who hears you, hears Me."
The perfect unity Jesus prayed for does not admit of agreeing to disagree. It resides in the fullness of truth that He revealed to His Church. That is why it matters that all Christians come to agree on the teachings Jesus left us.
This column will be devoted to examining those truths and teachings in light of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the writings of the Early Church.
Perhaps St. Paul says it best in his first letter to the Corinthians: "I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment."
Christians must grow in unity. Jesus prayed fervently for it. Truly united, by the grace of God we will change the world, because then, the world will know....