The conference opens with a wonderful recognition of its international flavour singing ‘The Splendour of the KIng’ in different languages before entering with modern thumping anthems, ‘Happy Day’ and ‘The Way’. The worship sets the tone – this conference is first and foremost about Jesus.
The 2 sites join together on a dodgy livelink that re-affirms that leadership is secondary to recognising Jesus. Different nationalities, different denominations, different churchmanships – the body of Christ represented together. Expectation is high and it is so encouraging to know that the Alpha and HTB teams have been praying for every attendee by name. “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh” is the verse chosen as a prophetic word for every individual present. “How we listen is as imortant as to how people speak” is the reminder from Nicky Gumbel as to how we approach the conference.
After sharing the peace, Nicky Gumbel is the first speaker and reminds us afresh of the power of unity from Psalm 133. Unity is not always easy and we need to work hard at unity – ‘make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit’ (ephesians). A fresh reminder for the need of humility, gentleness, patience and forbearance. Love binds it all together. Unity is not doctrinal, it is relational. We learn this from the trinity….relationship is critical and our relationship around Jesus will determine our success in evangelising the nations.
‘What unites us is infinitely greater than what divides us’ – Father Cantalamessa
If we want to bring the truth about Jesus to people, we need to be united. There is hope for us all because Jesus has given us great hope – why are we wasting time fighting one another when we have this great message to share with the world. We must stop fighting and need to get out and share our message.
There is a need for disagreement but we must do this in the context of friendship and love – then when a decision is made, we must back the leaders decision. Unity is not unanimity or uniformity. Its ok to have different views, this is how we learn from one another. Unity and truth are complementary not in opposition to one another. Could you imagine what it would be like if we stopped fighting one another and started to defend one another? Even those that are different to us – unity comes to us from the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit fills us all. In a family, we do not exclude those that we disagree with, families can be diverse. We have just one Father. Illustration of a lion and springbocks – the lion pounces when 2 springbocks fight as their attention is divided. We need a new perspective of the world, we get this perspective by recognising that we are one body and looking at the problems in the world in a different way.
What if we were to start afresh and make every effort to live in unity? Will we pray for it? Will we yearn for it?
As the talk concludes, Nicky and many in the hall seek God for forgiveness. A new beginning in the Church – Beautiful conclusion to the first session.