I am sometimes amazed at how Christians react to the word unity. Many act as if the very word itself is unimportant. As soon as someone begins to talk passionately about pursuing unity and correcting schism they grow suspicious. For them truth seems to mean “disunity is necessary” regardless of how it happened. On the opposite end of a spectrum some people seem to think that unity is all that matters. We should compromise truth to preserve unity. Anything goes and it often does. For the first group the word ecumenism is a nasty idea. For the second it seems to be their only idea. Like so many biblical truths heresy is at the extremes and truth is found in the proper understanding and application of this beautiful word and idea.
Search the Scripture and do a word study of the idea of unity. You will see that God loves it when we live in unity. In fact, he really loves it! And when we live in unity amazing things happen, as John 17:20-23 indicates so plainly.
In this week’s video I give a little longer explanation than usual about my new book, Your Church Is Too Small. I think this video presents some of the balance that is needed on this subject. If it is helpful to you then please encourage others watch it too.
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The concept of Christian service seems to me to be common to almost all of the Christian community. Unity in service seems a good place to start. It emphasizes the common ideas and gives us a chance not to dwell on the differences.
Bennett, WHY are there differences? Should there be differences?
Thanks John, I hope that the message of your book reaches a large audience and that the bride of Christ moves more quickly to the purity and unity that Christ desires for his beloved.
John, I started this note with no firm opinion on whether there should be differences or not. Now that I have been called upon to evaluate this, I suspect that my conviction would be that there should not be differences. The goals and inspiration are the same for most—even those who differ (almost?) violently. Thus, there should be no difference of opinion and conviction. However, I know that there are many scriptures that are interpreted for both application and argument. These interpretations are often significantly different from one person (or group) to another. The responses that we make to these differences are emphatic and determined. Many people have died over these differences—bad deaths in some cases.
A few years ago, I went through this exercise as applied to two (loudly) differing groups within the Christian community. The argument that I eventually tried to make was that if I could not tell by the response that a person made to a problem which group they belonged to—well, the differences did not matter and were not worthy of discussion. Most of the time, I still feel this way.
The bottom line is that our differences and interpretation of the scripture are not relevant. God will do it the way that God has always known that He would do it. We can huff and puff over some verse (or verses) and it matters not.
Thus, I quickly find myself back at the “service” end of our “business.” Service matters. The scriptures seem clear about a large number of things that we are supposed to do in the service area. The question is, “Are we doing what we should be doing?” The question is not, “Are we thinking about things in a perfectly correct manner and doing things with the perfect motive?”
You are helping the Church rediscover and define unity. We have associated unity with our associations and organizations rather than our spiritual unity in Christ.
Keep giving us new ways to think and talk about unity.