“Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” is a popular Christian hymn written in 1907 by Ada R. Habershon with music by Charles H. Gabriel. The first verse and chorus go like this:
“There are loved ones in the glory, whose dear forms you often miss. When you close your earthly story, will you join them in their bliss? Chorus: Will the circle be unbroken, By and by, by and by? Is a better home awaiting In the sky, in the sky?”
This circle is discussed in many ways and goes as far back as St. Paul’s discussion and witness to keeping this circle alive in our lives. We have the power to break the circle, but are always given another chance as we live out our days in this world.
In Colossians 1:15-23, we hear Paul testify to his conversion in saying: “And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him—provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.”
In the joy that comes when we truly turn to the Lord and follow Him, there is no need to look back other than to say, ‘I don’t know what took me so long, but thanks be to God that I finally got the message.’ I have seen people in their seventies and eighties fully experiencing the Lord for the first time.
While we can’t relive the past, once we’ve found the Lord we can share Him with others with a sense of urgency so that they might live a greater part of their lives holy and blameless and irreproachable before Him. Keeping our faith becomes our challenge once we’ve heard and experienced the hope of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
St. Paul was not perfect, but his servant hood of the gospel cannot be questioned. He pushed the envelope of this life to an extreme in order that others might share in the love that he found in serving the Lord. His life was in danger every moment, but the brand that he wore was irremovable. He was secure in his hope and in the promise that he found in the new life in Christ.
St. Paul says of Jesus, “For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.” God has gone out of His way to reconcile us with Himself. What He has done is hard to understand in strictly human terms. He continues to want to make peace with us even in our continuing rebellion against Him in our natural lives.
The very things that seem necessary for survival in the natural world can be our undoing in our relationship with God. Once we understand that we are important enough to God that He accepts us blameless before Him as an encouragement for us to come to Him, like Paul, we will become servants of the gospel.
God sacrificed the one who was the image of Himself in order that we might have a chance to return to Him our creator. Our challenge is to live for Him and worship Him in such a way that we do not break the circle.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extention: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.