The following is the keynote speech that Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church, gave at the 11th annual Global Leadership Summit, on Feb. 6, 2018, in Lisbon, Portugal. Read the news report about the summit here.
What a privilege for us, in this Global Leadership Summit, to be focusing on the one thing that Jesus longed for recorded in John 17 — unity in His church to accomplish His mission.
The theme that has been chosen, “The Spiritual Necessity of Church Unity and Biblical Authority to Accomplish God’s Mission,” is a strong reminder of Christ’s desire that His church might be one just as He and His Father are one.
The sense of unity emanating from the Godhead is overwhelming. God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit, are always in unity and accomplish their work together without any difference of opinion — they are One. They were in unity at creation (Genesis 1:26); at Christ’s baptism (Matthew 3:16-17); at the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:5); at the cross (Matthew 27:50-54); and on and on. The three persons of the Godhead are always in unity on all decisions they make.
That is why God intends for His church to be in harmony with His will and directions. Psalm 133 shares this hope for God’s people: “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard. The beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing — life forevermore.”
Obviously, God speaking through David expressed His enormous desire that God’s people be in unity. This unity was not some symbolic manifestation of “togetherness” but rather a truly merging of purpose, mission, and duty which comes only from focusing on God’s will. Whenever we depart from this formula, our “unity” will be incomplete and will become disunity.