2006-12-27 - Christian Unity
Ephesians 4:13, "Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of he fullness of Christ."
Few would deny that unity is a good thing among Christians. However, there are times when we are tempted to sacrifice the truths of Scripture to obtain unity. A good example of this is found in the recent capitulations of many (so called) Evangelical denominations associated with the World Council of Churches who have agreed, in principle, to accept the Roman Catholic Mass in the name of unity. While not getting into all the details, the end of the game is that the Evangelicals have given in to the Roman Catholics, in the name of unity, because the Roman Catholics held fast to their principles.
I want to make sure that the general idea here is not lost in the above example. The general principle I would like to maintain is that we should not ever sacrifice those things that we dearly hold as being taught in God's Holy Word in the name of unity. That being said, we want always to strive towards unity. It is a balance that can often be hard to achieve. Truth is not relative. Truth has an absolute standard, and it is found in God's Word. We cannot simply ignore our differences, hold hands, and sing, "kum-ba-yah." Truth is never about individual preference or creative reasoning. It is always about what God says is truth. We cannot run from the challenge or demands of God's truth upon our lives and beliefs, in the hopes of getting along.
However, we do need each other in this journey of faith. I would point out that community in this life was God's idea. In the creation, we see that God created everything and saw that it was good. When it came to Adam, we find that it was not good for him to be alone. God created Eve, and thus community was established. Community was God's idea, and an important thing to note here is that this was done before the fall into sin. Believing community is something that is prior to the fall. It was something that was part of the very creation order itself. Needing others is part of the plan of God.
In evangelical circles, we often fall trap to a "Me and my Bible", a "Jesus and juice" in the morning kind of faith. Our sense of community can be underdeveloped. While many will say that they agree with and see the value of community, our failure to practice community, or Christian unity, betrays what we really think about it. Let us understand and practice that faith is more than just about personal experience. It does have a communal character. Our practice of Christian unity can be a taste of Heaven here on Earth. Remember that Jesus did not set up a Christian college to instruct us in how to live the Christian life. He rather left us a community of saints, Apostles and disciples, who spread this faith, in its communal nature so that it has reached us today.
Let us not seek to do faith alone. Christian faith, Christian community is a melting pot of those who have come to Christ in repentance and who are created in His image. It is where rich, poor, middle class, lower class, upper class, lower middle class, middle middle class, lower lower class, upper middle class, no class, fat, thin, and normal all come together and seek to find meaningful service to Jesus Christ. It is bigger than just one person. It is where we take our differences and, in the mercy of Christ, strive to obtain the all too often illusive haven of Christian unity.
Soli Deo Gloria,