Friends,

I’d like to share a thought or two on the subject of Christian Unity. I am a preacher by calling, and as such, lately, I have been preaching a series of sermons to my congregation on this ever so strange idea of Christian Unity or as I prefer to call it, essential oneness. I have been preaching this series of sermons because my congregation has been going through some difficult times lately and we needed to be reminded of what Scripture says about our oneness in Christ.

It’s no small thing for a church to be one in heart, mind, and ambition. If you think about what Christ did when he brought us together it is really quite remarkable. He pulls people together who are different races (although we all belong to the human race), people of different colors, people of different nationalities, people from different religious backgrounds, people from differing social backgrounds (‘rich’ and ‘poor’), men, woman, young, old–the list could go on–and he throws us all into one great big bag that he calls ‘church’ and says: “Find a way to make it work.” Find a way to make it work?!? Seriously? Seriously.

Jesus knew, knows, what he is doing; doesn’t he? I mean, no two people come into the church with the same history or motivation or even theological ideas. For that matter, no two people ever even retain those original theological ideas. As few as 10 years ago, I would never have considered an Anglican preacher to be among my best of friends–simply because of theological ideas. You know what, today I can; and I am glad for it. The problem we have, I think, is that we in the church are far too concerned about the baggage that people carry with them after they become Christians. We sort of seem to think they ought to drop it all right away and get on board the Jesus train. When it takes longer, we get frustrated, irritated, angry, and begin to lack patience; love might slip.

That is, we think that people need to be remade into our image. You know what I mean, right?

That’s when problems creep into the church–when we forget to love. So we believe things like this:

  • Those people who are not maturing at the same rate as I am are bothersome.
  • Those people who are not thinking like I am theologically are weaklings.
  • Those people who do not see things the way I see them are troublemakers.

We think that anyone who is not ‘like me’ is, clearly, not a Christian at all. Or worse. You know what the problem with all this is? We are not being remade in the image of other human beings! That’s the glory of it all! I don’t have to stack up against other humans, because they are not the template; they are not the standard; they are not the goal. Jesus is. Paul wrote in Colossians 3 that we are being recreated in the image of our creator who is Jesus. And none of us is there yet. We are all still on the way. Only those who fail to recognize this ‘on-the-wayness’ lack the courage to be patient with others. Those who think all baggage must be left at the door are those who do not believe Jesus came to ‘save the sick’ and the ‘sinners.’ We might sing ‘just as I am’ but there are a lot people who don’t believe it for a minute. They think it is something more like ‘you better get the way I want you or even Jesus won’t help you.’

So, then, what does all this have to do with unity in the body of Christ? Well, consider these words from Paul’s pen to the Ephesian church:

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8This is why it says:

“When he ascended on high,
he led captives in his train
and gave gifts to men.”

(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Be patient with others. Be humble–they may be more advanced than you think. Work at unity in the body. It won’t be easy: work at it. And here’s the thing, if we have a proper view of ourselves (humility) and a proper view of others (patience and bearing with them) then working at unity in the body will be our goal. But if we are not working at maintaining peace, then are we working at war? Even a casual indifference (not working towards unity) is an example of not working at maintaining unity in the body. We must work at unity in the Body of Christ. Work. We cannot afford to not work for peace in the Body because if we don’t work at it war will break out among us.

Growing up is the goal: the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Along with self-sacrificing efforts at unity comes maturity in Christ as we are patient with one another and understand that God has apportioned his grace to us. Unity in the body and maturity in the individual somehow go hand in hand. Then there’s that grace word again! It’s so intrusive isn’t it? So how do we ‘make it work’?

It’s not complicated. He says three times: Bear with one another in Love. Speak the truth in Love. Build up the Body in Love. Do you think we can overstate the case for how much we must love in the Body of Christ? Do we have enough room to love? Can we humble ourselves and love? For the sake of the essential oneness of the Body of Christ can we love one another? Can we recognize that all of us are ‘on the way’ and none of us has arrived?

It’s that love thing. It’s that grace thing. It’s that patience thing. It’s that humility thing. Paul wants us to grow up, yes, but he is saying to the people that growing up takes time. It is the goal. It is the point. But it is not accomplished overnight. And it is not done in isolation. Maturity is an ‘all’ issue. We work together in unity so that we might worked together for maturity. We do it! We won’t become mature on our own. We need each other and this is why we are patient, speak the truth in love, bear with one another, think of ourselves in humility, understand that grace has been poured out in Christ, he gave us teachers and preachers and prophets, and this is why we should make every effort to maintain peace in the Spirit.

Do you really think for a minute that people can grow up and mature in Christ when there is fighting and arguing and carrying-on happening in the church? Do you think God will tolerate new babies living in a hostile place, in an environment of warfare? I don’t think so. How can people who persist in immaturity think for a minute that God is going to entrust them with babies who need to grow up in their faith? Not. Gonna. Happen.

So we must work at unity in the Body of Christ for the sake of our maturity. Christians need an environment where healthy interaction can take place and folks can grow up in their faith–into the Head who is Christ. Love will go a long, long way towards this goal. If we truly desire unity in the Body of Christ, love is the place we must start. Apart from patient, humble, bearing-with-one-another love–maturity is not likely to happen.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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  1. Levi Nueva

    I am impressed with this noble idea you have for the sake of the Body of Christ. Indeed it is a sad thing to think a religion bought with a precious blood, not just animal’s blood nor even the blood of man but by the blood of the Son of God so precious in the Father’s heart yet for the sake of the sinful man went to the cross in order to gather people unto Himself, yet disunited, disarrayed, displaced of its ‘ligaments’ having no peace and harmony within as each denomination fights their doctrinal prowess commending and condemning to the peril of the church. Almost two millenniums now the church has not experienced unity while the world aims for global economy, global society, global peace, yet we the church has not strive to work for unity whilst Paul in his writings exhorted and lambasted divisions trying hard to mend broken relationship. I am pained with this event ever since I became a Christian wondering why this religion so much fragmented.
    I am with you with this article you have and praying that more Christians will be awaken to unity especially teachers, theologians, church leaders etc.. Let us be one on this cause of unity fulfilling the prayer of the Lord in John 17.

    • Levi,

      Thank you so much for the reply. You are kind and wise to see the problem we have in the church. I too am waiting and working and praying that we will get out of the Spirit’s way and let Him work. But we are stubborn. I experienced this just this morning as I preached and looked at the stubborn people in my congregation who refuse to surrender themselves to Christ. Such people are stumbling blocks and frankly I am tired of having to dance around their antagonistic spirits. But God be praised! The Body is One even when we can’t see it or feel it. Check back later. I will put a link on my front page to an essay by David Faust that speaks volumes about what we should be as the church of Christ on earth. Thanks again for stopping by.

      Grace and Peace in Christ,
      jerry

  2. Levi Nueva

    Thanks for your prompt reply. I like your spirit as it confirms my passion for unity which I believe every true believer of Jesus Christ desire. YOu know I have resigned from being a pastor just last year and have a full time ministry in ‘building bridges’ which is the name of the ministry God assigned to me and one of my tool in bulding bridges is through my article named ‘Unity Series Bulletin” with a current exegesis of John chapter 17. I publish it weekly expounding verse by verse and is distributed to a small group of pastors from different denomination who gathers every Saturday for prayer. And every Sunday I go to another church which I do not know (pastors and their doctrines) and have fellowship with them and since July of last year I have found out that there is a cry for unity especially the members but it is sad tosay that not all pastors are inclined with this ministry as some of them I knew is a separatist which I believe you know it and it is sad. But I continue to pray for them.
    I pray that we continue to connect through the mail. Thank God for this technology. With this we Christians can be united not only in the spirit as it is intrensic for believers but also one in our communication.

    Thank you,
    Levi

    • Levi,

      Keep the lines of communication open. Perhaps I could share some of the unifying work the Spirit of God has been doing in my own community. It is amazing. Thanks again for stopping by.

      jerry

  3. Levi Nueva

    Yes, I will continue to connect with you and am excited to hear from you your testimony of what God is doing in your community regarding unity.

    Thanks
    Levi

  4. Wow, I really love what you said here. I am working on many of these issues myself as I seem to be having many spiritual growth spurts. Would it be OK if I would post this to my blog, and also, I willl be adding you to my blogroll. God bless and thanks. Robin

    • Robin,

      Thanks a bunch. I appreciate the encouragement more than I can express. Feel free to post and repost and share and ping and link. I’m happy to share God’s blessings with others that they might be encouraged and strengthened in their walk with Christ. Grace and peace.

      jerry

  5. Levi Nueva

    Good Day Brother,

    I am believing that in these days of global chaos and economic down turn the God in the heavens is about to fulfill the Prayer of our Lord on unity. Could this be the last minute of Christ return? H1N1 virus is coming fast becoming pandemic and no one is spared of becoming a victim. Will the economic dilemma be solved? Only God knows.
    Well, while the world is on chaos let us be reminded of those whom the Lord has died to work together for oneness, endeavoring to keep it from falling apart. Only true and genuine believers will do this but to those who are not in spite of being in a denomination or even in a local church will continue to defy this move of God for they are not included in the prayer of our Lord in John 17.
    I pray that more will read your articles and be sip in together those who love unity! Thanks

  6. Levi

    I had been praying a lot on how can we, those who have the calling on this great task of unifying the Body of Christ, affect, influence and finally carry on this work of unity. And the Lord just impressed my heart a suggestion and here it is; Why not organize yourselves (those who have this passion) all over the globe and have our own website, gathering in our respective places where we are, inviting, encouraging other christians to join with us. Conducting seminars attended from different denominations etc..
    Thanks

    • Levi,

      I’d like to hear more about your thoughts. Perhaps you could send them to me or just reply here. I could share some thoughts on what is going on in my own community and how a man from Africa is also involved. Grace and Peace.

      jerry

  7. Levi Nueva

    I just send you first my articles on unity and we will exchange ideas later on as we invite others to join us in this ministry.
    Thanks
    Levi

  8. Levi

    Can you send your personal email cause I don’t know how to send into your yahoo mail. I am just a beginner in this technology. Thanks

  9. You mentioned several time at the beginning “my congregation” and then went on to say, “I have been preaching this series of sermons because my congregation has been going through some difficult times lately and we needed to be reminded of what Scripture says about our oneness in Christ.”

    A house divided cannot stand. We in America build on division and not unity. We are breaking the heart of Jesus with our thousands of divisions. In the beginning it was not so. They had love, the foundation of unity. They had power, the manifestation of unity. We are commanded to be one, but we built around lesser doctrines that have divided us. Division is heresy.

    • Andy,

      I’m not sure if I should say ‘thanks’ or ‘duh’. I mean, that is the point I was making to the congregation so I’m not really certain what you are trying to say. Thanks for stopping by. If you wish to clarify, I will be happy to listen and respond.

      jerry

  10. Levi Nueva

    I thank God for what He is doing today. Indeed He is connecting us through this medium and
    we are not far from being ‘one’ in Christ visibly.
    Thank God my articles will now be publish which has been my heart cry ever since I started to write.

    Levi

  1. 1 Unity In The Body of Christ « Desperate for More of Him

    […] https://dangoldfinch.wordpress.com/2009/03/19/unity-in-the-body-of-christ/ […]

  2. 2 Unity In The Body « Desperate for More of Him

    […] https://dangoldfinch.wordpress.com/2009/03/19/unity-in-the-body-of-christ/ […]




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