More on Unity

In my previous post on Edwardian prayer, I stressed the point that if the church is to have an impact in invigorating our troubled nation, it requires us to understand the significance of unity. In case someone hasn’t tuned in, we have little of it in both our society and even in our local ecclesiastical gatherings. I know I sound like a broken record, but I’ll drop the needle anyway, we love to focus upon what divides us rather than what unites us! Union between God’s people is crucial to the success of any work especially any external facing ministry. Brethren, linking arm in arm with faithful gatherings of believers has a greater impact upon the Great Commission than beating each other up over something like sprinkles and dips. The Psalmist saw the beauty of this unification: Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity! (Psalm 133:1) and I hope you do too. Now, let’s consider that the enemies of the church are doing just that, they’re uniting. They’re gathering around the campfire largely based upon identity politics. These distinct identifiers are creating a unison based upon distinctiveness from their enemy, which, if you’re not aware, is basically you and your church. They are making strides because they created a unified assault, and the morale is on the rise. While I believe that this unity won’t last, simply because there is no logical foundation to keep it together, we still must take this movement seriously. Movements that have no brakes lead to their own demise, but they tend to take everyone else with them. But our fate doesn’t need to be like theirs.

As Christians, we can learn something from this. We actually have a greater basis for unity than our enemies. We have a unifying central figure and He is the foundation of our existence as a people. Our basis for this harmonious inclusivity begins with a profound truth, mainly with our identity in Christ. I’m not speaking in terms of all our numerous historical faux individualities nor our denominational distinctives, but that our congenial link to Christian brothers and sisters in Christ is found in our position in Him. When Christ prayed for His people, He prayed that they might be one in Him (John 17:22-23). Our anchor for this unity that God’s people are in Christ. We seriously need to get back on board thinking in this way. We must start remembering that prior to labeling ourselves in terms of my theological/denominational affiliation, we need to begin with this conjecture. If we focus primarily upon any of these other identifiers, then we be best prepared to deal with the cancer of inner separation taking the wheel and quickly drive the church off a cliff. You are brothers & sisters in Christ, not enemies!

But then How can we walk together unless we are agreed? (Amos 3:3) While to maintain unity, there needs to be at least some like-mindedness that prevails doctrinally. I’m not arguing for holding hands with just anyone and singing kumbaya. But what we need to establish is which doctrines succeed to grant us unity and which ones can we just agree to disagree. We first need to see our brethren, whether those in our own churches, or in other sound churches, in this together. No matter how much you disagree with your brother on secondary doctrine, you must acknowledge that you share with him that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17). You share in this new creation through the new birth that was granted through the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8) and miraculously created a family. This family was brought forward by God to be His children (John 1:12-13). We are of a different kind of creation in Christ. We have received every spiritual blessing through Him (Ephesians 1:3), we are the chosen (v.4), the holy ones, the predestined adopted sons & daughters of the Almighty God (v.5), who have received redemptions, forgiveness and who have experienced the riches of God’s grace (vs.6-7) and who have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (v.13). Our responsibility as the people of God is to glorify Him, to spread His word to the nations, and to show the world our unity through the love we have for one another.

It’s important to note that I’m not arguing for the anything-goes mindset but that we need to be clear upon the first things. What I’m implying is that we need to first figure out which truths unite, and which divide. Nobody has the right to falsify the gospel, abandon the authority of Scripture or hinder the salvation of men and women. We are to hold the foundational truths of God’s person and His gospel at the forefront. But while we can’t help talking about our beliefs and doctrine, we need to decide how we’re going to react to each one. As I’ve mentioned previously, we must determine if the juice is worth the squeeze.

The Problem of the Wolf

The Lord left us a warning that has resonated with me for many years. “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. (Matthew 7:15) Sound doctrine isn’t the only consideration to unity but that the one with whom you wish to unite has a unifying spirit. Many Christians have their doctrine “figured out” but add very little heart and their intentions aren’t necessarily noble. Modern day Diotrephes are very real, and we meet them often whether we know it or not. Some want successful ministries so badly that they’d be willing to devour the flock to grow their own numbers and have little care about the impact it will have on Christ’s people (Acts 20:29; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 6:3-5; 2 Timothy 3:1-9). A minister of the gospel without sincerity and compassion upon others, who seeks control and applies little grace to his doctrine will bring very little benefits to the gospel and the mission of God.

More on this coming. Stay tuned!


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