Unity in Following Christ

by Heath Firkin

As one looks upon the current state of our local communities and the world at large, one can clearly see that we, human beings, are disconnected, and dwell in the midst of division and disunity. From the playgrounds of children where some are included and others not to adult workplaces and families where selfish motives lead to broken relationships and ruin to nations and countries who are not able to agree on a matter of common interest—everything makes our division and disunity obvious, which often lead to the horror of conflict and war. Division and disunity are still very much a part of our lives, causing tremendous problems for all people and the world in general.

In the midst of this seemingly hopeless situation, one might rightly ask, is there any hope for the future? Can anything really heal the division and disunity that are so deeply rooted within us?

The Scriptures testify that there is:

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new humanity from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:14-22)

I thought to myself, how can this be? How can one person, “Jesus Christ,” have the power to drive such change? I remember a testimony I heard from a young person; I don’t remember his name or the place where the events happened, but I will share what still resounds in my memory and heart. This person shared how at some point he was ignorant of Christ and would openly make fun of the Church in general, believing that faith and prayer were a waste of one’s time. He went on the share that on one particular day he was with a group of friends, (and he chuckled as he said) wasting time, and as they were passing by a church, he was prompted by his friends to go inside and do something disrespectful. I can’t remember what exactly he was supposed to do, but it doesn’t matter. As he entered the church, he was met by an elderly member who was doing some type of work. The elderly man welcomed him and politely asked him what he was seeking. The young man answered that he wasn’t seeking anything. He went on to state that he didn’t believe in God and that everything that is done in this building is a waste of one’s time and energy. The elderly man listened calmly until the young man had finished sharing all of his thoughts and conclusions pertaining to faith, prayer and the church. He then gently suggested to the young man that he try doing just one thing as he was leaving. He encouraged him to walk outside the church, turn around, look up and say, “I don’t care.” The young man thought to himself, “Easy, I’ll do that.” He walked outside the church, turned around, looked up, and found himself looking directly at a Cross with Jesus crucified on it. As he looked at the crucified Lord, his soul was pierced, he was unable to utter any words, or make any movements, something unseen and powerful was moving him in the deepest part of his being. He encountered Christ truly in that moment and began a new life following Him. I don’t know the rest of this person’s story. He obviously became a follower of Christ and was openly sharing his testimony with others (which included myself on this particular day) in the hope that some would also consider a life of following Christ and becoming fellow members in God’s all-embracing family, much like the healed demoniac in the Gospel of Saint Luke (8:39):

And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

As I reflect on the testimony mentioned above, it helps to reinstate the conviction that when a person truly encounters Christ crucified, a dramatic and lasting change begins to take place. The person begins a journey of becoming more like Him. Christ embraced all, He welcomed all, and by His life showed us how to achieve a love that encompasses all people and all things. The old ways of division, barriers, and disunity begin to be abolished. They are replaced by love, mercy, acceptance, and compassion. Unity and togetherness become a reality which can be achieved in Christ, one reborn person to another.

Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for becoming our peace and showing us the way to peace and unity. Help us to follow you. Amen.

Heath Firkin is a a convert to the Orthodox Church and a member of Saint Gregory’s Orthodox Mission (the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Australia and New Zealand). He tries to be a follower of Christ since he was 21 years old. He is blessed to be a husband and father of three children. He works for a Disability Service Provider based in Sydney.  

Acknowledgment: Photo of the Firkins family at Saint Gregory’s, by Otilia Costache. 27 March 2022

12 November 2023 © AIOCS

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