John 17:20-21 (New International Version)
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me."
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher commemorates Golgotha and the tomb where Jesus was laid and raised from the dead. It is assumed that this Holy Sepulcher was built in 330 A.D, on the precise location of these very events. And given this location, one would presume that this holy place would be the breeding ground of love and unity, as promoted by the Risen One, Jesus, Himself.
But is it really?
In this church reside the following four Christian groups: Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Ottomans, and Coptics of Egypt. All four of these denominations fight for this piece of real estate, and the contest is so fierce that when the Coptic Church of Ethiopia lost its deed to part of this church in a fire, they were demoted by the other denominations to the rooftop. It is said that these Coptics don't dare leave the premises, even for a moment, for fear of losing their property to the competitors, even though the priests are exposed to the elements.
The fight for this property was so fierce that when Saladin entered the city of Jerusalem more than 840 years ago, he had no choice but to give the key of this place to a neutral party: a Muslim. Even today, the key remains in the possession of a Muslim named Abu Joudea. Supposedly this is the oldest key in the world!
Jesus' birthplace, five miles from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, is under the authority of the Hamas. The walls of the Manger square are pitted with bullet holes.
I wonder if we have forgotten what Jesus came for: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34 NIV)
We need to ask ourselves what drives us. If we are uncertain which way we are heading, let's contemplate the fruit we have brought forth so far and consider if they are pleasing to God, for: "By their fruit you will recognize them." (Matt 7:16 NIV)
Unity, stemming out from love, is not just a convenience that can be neglected. It is our reality when we let Jesus shine in our hearts.
Who has the key of your heart?
Dear Lord we pray today that we would give You complete control of our heart. We give you the key to our heart so nothing else can have control over it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.