2009-06-14 - 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 a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
If we think for a moment about all the variations of doctrine and practice among Christians, we have to mourn our lack of unity. We would never advocate that all must conform to one understanding, but surely the vast diversity seen, even within like-minded believers, is troubling. It is troubling because we can't all be right. We can't all have such an assortment of Bible understandings and worship practices, and all be pleasing in the sight of the Lord. Every one of us is a sinner, and all we do is done under the over-arching umbrella of the Fall into sin, so we have to be gracious to one another. What is that which unifies us? It is only Christ that can unify us. What is the rule that guides us? It is only His Word, interpreted by His Spirit, that serves as our pilot. Our unity can be found nowhere else, and when it is, we likely produce more division than unity.
There is a reason why there must be mutual love among those who are trusting in Jesus Christ for all their hope. The reason is that Christ unites His followers, but divides them from those who have rejected Him. Christ is our unity. Without this love the love of Christ manifested in us by the Holy Spirit -- we are defective in our Christian profession and practice. We are separate from the world, but united under Christ with all others who are Children of the Living God. Toward those who are in possession of Christ and His forgiveness, our love ought to be intense and fervent. We are united to them in the one thing that is essential. We pray that the breaches and differences between those of common faith will be healed. We look for common ground that finds its foundation in God's Word. Those who make profession of faith in Christ, who persecute or demean others who profess also to follow Christ, show themselves to be of the world and, without repentance, and will perish with the world. It is a hard thing to say, but the love of Christ overcomes differences, and it leads us to do so in humility. We always look for the plank in our own eye, before seeking to identify the speck in our brother's eye.
Our love is to be towards those who hold Christ as Lord, and we are to commune with them seeking their best, growth in Christ's grace, because they love Jesus as we do. We might differ on many things, but when we are "in Christ," we agree on the essential thing. A church that faithfully preaches the Gospel of repentance unto faith in the atonement of Christ for sin is a true church. A person who trusts in Jesus Christ's expiation of sin on the cross and His resurrection for our justification, is a fellow child of God. We are to love them as Christ loves them. Christ loves them with an everlasting love.
This does not mean we agree with that which is against God's Word. It does not mean that we condone things that God abhors. It does mean that we seek to love those who are saved by the same grace that we hope in. Part of loving them is sometimes disagreeing with them when they transgress God's Word. The Bible is our rule and guide, but even when we disagree, we do so in love. We know that one day all wrongs will be righted, and all that is crooked will be straightened.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Editor's Note: One part of this devotional does not respresent the views of all CF Devotionals writers: Some of us believe that as differing worship practices aren't unbiblical, they are all honoring to God (different types of music, some with instruments and some without, some with paraments on the altar while some altars are plain, some with just pianos and some with drums and cymbals as the Bible mentions etc.). We believe that these things fall under Paul's admonition to follow our conscience on non-essential matters. I consider Tim a good friend, and believe our differing beliefs are just further evidence of God's diversity, and I am thankful for all I learn from him! :)