What Is Christian Unity And How Can We Encourage Its Growth?

Recently, a distraught person had concern that one well known speaker changed his views on pre-trib rapture. However, while this speaker claimed Christ, he is living openly in sin contrary to Christ’s and the Apostle’s teachings. I sat there scratching my head thinking “man, this so-called Christian is in sin and another is worried about his views on eschatology?”

The experience shows a prejudice: some equivocal concepts split us, but some fundamental issues are ignored. While it may seem that this topic has nothing in common with the previous post on truth, I think it does. There are certain nonnegotiable views and actions that the biblical writers explain are the bounds of Christianity. One that is on the outside is the lack of unity within the body of Christ. The Bible commands unity! It is true, no matter what anyone thinks in today’s age.

But what assaults biblical unity? Two nemeses come to mind. First, beliefs people form from unclear passages and non-biblical issues, leading to splitting disagreements and divisions. The second is man-made traditions, which we will talk about in the next post (subscribe so you do not miss it).

This is a second post in a series leading up to an apologetic method taught by Jesus, one so basic that we almost universally miss it. This approach is not dependent on one’s advanced knowledge or even ability to communicate, anyone can grasp it, if one really wants to follow Christ!

face_adWhat Is Unity?
We all know the clear call to unity in Scripture. Of course everyone talks about unity, but do we even have the slightest idea what it is? Some define it so narrow only a few are included. Others so wide all are Christian. It strikes me that neither are correct. You see, the truth of the matter is not dependent upon one’s faith, belief or practice.

A peruse through the Bible where unity, oneness, one mind, like mind and the like are addressed, one finds that the context helps snap the definition into focus, which is quite simple. I think one will find two profound Christian ethos of becoming a follower of Christ, and continue learning and following his teachings. In other words, believing in Jesus Christ for salvation and behaving in accordance to his will and word. It is being Christian and walking the Christian talk (1).

A ripe example of unity is given oft in wedding ceremonies: the triangle of marriage. As a couple engages a closer relationship with the pinnacle of the triangle, God, each of the two lower corners, the wedded, become closer to each other as they strive for closeness with the apex of Christ. The same goes for Christianity. Simplicity of theology and full measures of love and obedience will bring followers of Christ together who have diversity of gifts – there are many gifts but one Spirit.

Is this too simplistic? Maybe. But it strike me what the Bible teaches. Are we humble enough to accept that? Or are we so proud that we know more than Christ and the Apostles?

The Creeds Drive Clarity
This clarity can also be found in such extra biblical creeds, such as the Apostle’s creed, that attempt to unite, rather than divide true followers of Christ (2). As the generations passed, it seems to me that many creeds have gotten longer and longer. While new points may be necessary, I’ve noticed many modern creeds attempt to divide more than just the non-Christian from the Christian, but rather the body of Christ. Great harm is so easily accomplished in such a simple act!

Many early Christians could testify that they all believed the same thing. That is because the all believed the essentials of the faith and they tried to live a just and righteous life after the commands of Christ. They focused on the important things, obeying the Bible, trying to love everyone (in the biblical sense), having mercy, righteousness and justice.Science_v_God_Check_Large

If Jesus Can, You Can
Here is the low blow though! It strikes me a little strange that Christ, being perfect, is willing to make us, being imperfect, his brothers and sisters, and we will not to each other? If God the Father is willing to call us his children, are we that prestigious, so egocentric, so self-righteous that we can’t humble ourselves and do what the Scriptures teach on this matter (3)?

Differences of opinion and understanding on issues will happen. However, there are issues that we can not divide over. So many times we are concerned about things that the Bible is not clear on or where there is legitimate debate but we ignore a massive theological issue that we all have to be on board about (4).

I’m not advocating a definition of unity that is more inclusive than biblical. I’m not avocation uniting when things are anti-Christ. I’m not advocating evil culture. I’m not advocating non-Christian theology. This whole topic of biblical criteria is going to be touched upon in in a future post in this series.

However, how can we say that we serve God or we are Christian when our definition of unity is far more specified a definition than biblically given? How can we be followers of Christ when we divide over childish things, non-essentials? How can we call ourselves Christians when we divide over issues the Bible never even talks about specifically and even in principle?

And really do we take pride in division? Do we celebrate and rejoice, self-extol our self and “slap each other’s backs” when we divide? Should we not weep? Have we strained out a gnat and swallowed a camel? Have we taken on “man’s wisdom”, division, as the Bible calls it, in the place of God’s wisdom (5)?

In Essentials Unity, In Non-essentials Liberty, In All Things Love.
At times it seems we ignore the essentials for the esoteric and equivocal; topics, that even now would create a firestorm if mentioned! Why do we major on the minors? Why do we focus on things that are equivocal, but ignore the unequivocal, major issues: love, faith justice, righteousness, godliness, mercy, gentleness and unity?

Yes, Christian unity, unity of the body of Christ, unity of all true believers is one of those essentials. It is grounded upon us willing to follow Christ. I wonder if a cry to major on the majors and a minor on the minors would be appropriate here, or in the words of one wiser than me, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things love.”

In the next post in this series, I want to delve into the second issue that I think divides and creates disunity in the body of Christ: a focus on man made tradition that is set to the standard of Christ’s teachings, no, rather higher than Christ’s teachings. You will not want to miss that post, so feel free to sign up for the latest posts! Plus, when you do, you will also receive my Free Quick Guide, why I think Science points to God!

What thoughts do you have? What are some Scriptures that come to mind on this topic? Please share below!

 

End Notes:
1) There are a large number of passages that talk on unity, if looked at in context, we deduce the meaning and importance. In fact, unity is so important, we read in Galatians 5:19-21 disunity is included with other hideous sins: enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions and envy!

2) Link to the Apostles Creed.

3) Rom 8:17  “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Mat 12:50 “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

4) Many things we ignore in the Church, such as busybodies, gossipers, idolaters, immorality, sexual immorality, adultery and drunkenness, why? Maybe we should consider 1 Co 5:11 “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” 1 Co 6:9-11 “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

5) 1 Cor 1-4 Paul makes one long argument that division is wrong. Man’s wisdom and worldly wisdom ware not part of his preaching, this was part of his argument against division. James also, in James 3, makes a case that division is not heavenly wisdom, rather earthly, unspiritual and demonic.

6) Image source: 3D Full Spectrum Unity Holding Hands | CC 2.0  |lumaxart.com

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