(Condensed from Harmony Among the Heirs of Heaven, by Dan Winkler)
In recent months, several natural and unnatural calamities have struck our country and community. Terrorists destroy buildings and lives; planes fall from the sky; evil people have given ‘hate mail’ a new meaning. Periodically, hurricanes ‘huff, and puff, and blow our East Coast houses down,’ and earthquakes ‘shake, rattle, and roll’ our West Coast structures. A little closer to home, fires often destroy neighborhood houses, storms ‘leave us in the dark,’ and auto accidents injure those we know.
Usually, upon finding out that no one was injured, we immediately ask, ‘Were they covered?’ We are interested in whether victims had insurance and sympathize the more with those who did not. It multiplies the sorrow of misfortune if there is no ‘starting over’ check.
Insurance companies provide a valuable service and most of us have been wisely counseled by informed agents. They always advise people to ‘take out some coverage-you never know when you might need it.’ Though we do not like to pay the premiums, most of us realize that the potential benefits are worth the price to be ‘covered.’ We often advise our children to take out a policy ‘just in case.’
There is a spiritual angle to the ‘insurance business.’
GOD IS IN THE INSURANCE BUSINESS.
There is a sense in which God is in the insurance business. He promised Moses that He would ‘cover’ him as He passed by (Ex. 33:22), and Moses promised the tribe of Benjamin, ‘…the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders’ (Deut. 33:12). In a beautiful word picture, the Psalmist describes God’s protection: ‘Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler’ (Psa. 91:3, 4).
From His vantage point, God can see an impending disaster worse than any hurricane or earthquake. It will not destroy just one house, or even town-but the whole earth (2 Pet. 3:10). It will not involve only a few hundred or thousand people, but all the people of the whole earth (2 Cor. 5:10). God is providing coverage for those willing to ‘pay the premiums.’ Jesus put it this way:
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple (Lk. 14:28-33).
CHRISTIANS ARE INSURANCE AGENTS.
If God is in the insurance business, then we are His agents. We seek to ‘cover’ our friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, fellow citizens, and, actually, all our ‘brothers come down from Adam.’ Love motivates us. Gratitude sends us. When Noah was uncovered in his tent, Shem and Japheth took a garment and went backwards to cover their father’s shame (Gen. 9:23). They did what love always does-cover the shame of sinners. The Bible teaches us to do just that:
- ‘Hatred stirreth up strifes; but love covereth all sins’ (Prov.10:12).
- ‘A fool’s wrath is presently known; but a prudent man covered shame’ (Prov. 12:16).
- ‘He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends’ (Prov. 17:9).
- ‘And above all things have fervent charity among your-selves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins’ (1 Pet. 4:8).
Love does not ‘sweep sin under the rug.’ In younger days, our older brothers or buddies from school occasionally pressed us to ‘cover for them’ to keep them from the wrath of parents or teachers. It never worked. The truth came out and then we looked as bad as they did. Sin is like a rubber tire-it won’t stay buried (Num. 32:23; 1 Tim. 5:24, 25). So, then, what does the Bible mean when it says that ‘love covereth all sins?’ We cover sins by assisting sinners in getting rid of them. James wrote: ‘Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins’ (5:20).
ARE YOU COVERED?
It does no good to cover one’s sins so that others do not know of them. Children may hide things from their parents, husbands and wives may hide things from each other, and workers may hide things from their employers, but no one hides anything from God (Heb. 4:13). ‘He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy’ (Prov. 28:13).
The only way to cover one’s sins is to have them erased from the mind of God (Heb. 8:12). For sinners this is done through faith in His Son (Jn. 3:16), repentance (turning from sinful behavior) (Lk. 13:3), confession of faith (Rm. 10:9, 10), and immersion in water to have sins blotted out (Acts 2:38). For erring Christians, sins are covered by repentance, confession, and prayer (Acts 8:22).
‘Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered’ (Psa. 32:1).
Answer the Prayer of Jesus
A little fellow wished to pray but had never been taught how. He, thus, began to recite his ABCs as he knelt. A man passing by overheard the lad and inquired, ‘Son, what’s going on?’ ‘I’m saying my prayers,’ replied the boy. ‘But why the ABCs?’ the man asked. ‘Sir,’ came the answer, ‘I don’t know how to go about praying, so I thought if I said my ABCs God would take what he needed and spell out the words to match my wants.’ With childlike innocence, this little fellow believed in prayer.
Jesus also believed in prayer. In fact, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John compositely recorded several occasions where Jesus went apart to pray. For example, all of John 17 projects a prayer of Jesus which may be divided into four segments: (1) For Himself (17:1-5); (2) For the apostles (17:6-19); (3) For the church (17:20-23); and again, (4) For the apostles (17:24-26).
Let’s focus on ‘Christ’s prayer for the church’ (17:20-23). ‘Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.’ This pulsates with a plea for harmony.
According to ‘Christ’s prayer for the church,’ harmony is a challenging possibility. He prayed that all who believe on him through the apostles’ word might ‘be one…be one in us….be one…be made perfect in one.’ In each of these petitions, the subjunctive mood of the Greek language was used, indicating an objective reality! Harmony among Christians is more than an illusive dream or noble sentiment. Encouragingly, it is a very real possibility. A case in point to prove such would be the first century church of Jerusalem (Acts 2:42, 44-46). They were united in their support of fearless Gospel preaching (4:24-29). They were united in their benevolent spirit and sacrificial care (4:32). They were also united in their support of church discipline (5:1-12). By example, they established the possibility of harmony existing in the church.
Therefore, the subject of harmony among Christians should be approached with a positive attitude. When it comes to unity in the church, negative slurs [‘Well, that sounds good,’ or ‘It would be nice,’ or ‘That is just youthful idealism’] should be CANNED. After all, success comes in CANS not CAN’TS! If Jesus’ prayer for the church implied the possibility of harmony in the church, it is a possibility; yea, it is a possibility that challenges every congregation and heart of the church.