When we consider Christian unity there are a few questions to consider.
How can we find unity when we have so many different beliefs?
We must recognize that we will not all agree on everything. Being of one mind does not mean we will agree on everything. There has never been a time in the history of Christ's Church where everyone agreed on everything. But we must recognize the unity that exists in the essentials of our shared faith in Christ and His message of good news for us.
What are the essentials?
This is where I believe we often go wrong. Many 'churches' have made the list of essentials to included everything they interpret the scriptures to say. Then when someone interprets part of scripture in a different way, they can not find unity.
I believe we need to reconsider our list of essentials for the sake of unity. I believe Christian unity is one of the essentials to our shared faith. If we don't highly value the unity of Christ's body, we are not placing high value on the word's of Christ.
Jesus' Prayer for us in John 17:20 - 26 (NIV)
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."Colossians 3:13-15 (NIV)
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.Ephesians 4:2-6 (NIV)
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Romans 15:5-7 (NIV)
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
1 Cor 12:12-13 (NIV)
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.1 Cor 1:10-13 (NIV)
I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ."Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?My Modern day interpretation:
I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, in my life journey I have heard many quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I am Baptist"; another, "I am Lutheran"; another, "I am Catholic"; another, "I am Protestant"; another, "I am Evangelical"; another, "I am Orthodox";another, "I am Emergent"; still another, "I follow Christ." Is Christ divided? Was your denomination crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of a denomination?
The scriptures are clear that placing a high value the unity of Christ's Church is essential to our faith.
I propose that whenever we encounter an issue that is dividing Christ's Church we ask this question:
Is this issue more essential to my faith than the unity of Christ's body?
And to determine the answer to that question, take a second look at the scriptural support that is backing up your position to the divisive issue. If there is less scriptural support for the issue you are debating than there is on the topic of unity (and there are more verses that I did not list here), then we need to recognize that maintaining unity is more essential.
- Who says we are divided?
- Clarification: What is essential?
- Chain Blog: Please Agree With Me
- Brief time of unity
- A. W. Tozer on Oneness in Christ
- A great little conversation between Evangelicals and Catholics
- If Protestants Accepted Sola Scriptura
- Can I find unity without agreement on essentials
- Respond to disagreements in love
- One Mind