“That they may be one…”
Israeli Pastors Gathering
Posted May 13th, 2009
Those were the words of Yeshua speaking of His followers. He was praying to the Father for unity in the body of believers (John 17:22). We often speak of Matthew 6 as being the Lord’s prayer, but as my bible school professor used to say, “That was the disciples’ prayer. The Lord’s pray—the one He prays—is in John 17.” There is a lot that Yeshua didn’t pray in that chapter, so we should take special note at what He did pray, because it speaks of that which was and is important to the heart of the Lord.
He prays for unity amongst those who would follow Him. That does not mean that we will all agree on every bit of theology and form of worship. It means that even as we disagree on minor issues we agree on the major issue—namely, that salvation is found in no other name save the name of Yeshua. It means that we will seek to walk in love towards each other and be tolerant on non-essential issues.
In Israel, the Body of believers is not different than the Body in other areas of the world, in that we are a bit like Baskin Robins—many flavors, but it is all ice cream. We have many different expressions of the faith, but the faith itself remains the same. We have Jewish believers, Arab believers, Russian Speakers, Hebrew Speakers, English Speakers, Charismatic, non-Charismatic, traditional Jewish expression, some not so traditional in expression, and the list goes on. And twice a year all the pastors and elders of the various congregations go away together to what is called SAYF—Sitting At Yeshua’s Feet.
While not every pastor comes, a significant amount do. On the second day, each leader goes off alone for about five hours of prayer and reflection. In the afternoon we share with one another what the Lord has shown us.
This week SAYF will be held for three days in the dessert. For the first several years I was here I did not attend this gathering, as I was not in a leadership position in a local congregation. Once I was, you would imagine that I would be excited to attend such a gathering. The leadership of the restored expression of the Messianic faith in Israel. And yet so much internally and externally fought against my attendance. And I am sure I am not alone. I am positive that the enemy hates the unity that is present amongst the pastors here. I believe he fights hard to keep up separated and to keep us from encouraging one another. He fights to keep Yeshua’s prayer from being answered, that we may be one.
Two final points. In revelation, Yeshua addresses the church of each city. “To the church of Ephesus…” He doesn’t identify each group that meets in that city, but He addresses them the way He sees them—as one. Secondly, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Day of Shavuot in Acts 2, all the believers were in unity. “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” (Acts 2:1) Unity attracts the presence of God. Pray for continued unity in the Body of Believers in Israel and amongst it leaders.
Committed to the Messiah’s Mandate,