If Alan gets to add two posts to this chain blog on the topic of unity, maybe I can too. If I'm not allowed I will become very divisive and start my own chain blog all by myself. :)
Who gets to decide if Christ's Church is divided?
It seems like a simple enough question. But it is a question I have never really considered before.
Do church leaders present and past get to decide if we are one church, or 30,000+ churches?
To unite the church, does every bishop, priest, pastor and theologian have to agree to some new ecumenical statement? Who gets to decide that it's time to put an end to the divisions that have been created over the past centuries.
If the church is made up of institutions and organizations, then church unity will occur when these institutions and organizations merge into one.
If the church is simply people, then maybe church unity can exist whenever people recognize that the church is one. The meaning of the word church (ekklēsía) has changed since New Testament times. When I talk about the church I want to keep in mind that the church is the people - the body of Christ, the family of God. So when I think of church unity, I should be thinking unity between people - not primarily unity between organizations.
Maybe it isn't just up to the leaders of church institutions to decide if we are united.
Maybe we can look to Scripture, and let Scripture be the authority on the question. Does Scripture support the concept of one church, or the concept of many denominations?
So I have a challenge for you.
You don't have to be a church leader to unite the church.
No, I'll rephrase.
You can be a leader in Christ's church by recognizing that Christ's church is united. As you take the lead, I pray that others will follow.
To take the challenge simply be open to building deeper relationships with other followers of Jesus who may have some different beliefs and traditions than you. Take a look and see if you can recognize God's love in their lives. See if you can fellowship with them and build each other up to become more like Christ.
Try to leave divisive topics until later. After you've built a strong relationship, you may be able to handle these discussions better, or you may conclude you don't ever need to discuss them.
You don't need to wait for all the institutions to work towards unity. It may not be up to them to decide this one.
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.It is up to each of us to live this truth out.
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“Links” in this chain blog:
1. “Chain Blog: Dealing with Divisive Issues Introduction” by Alan
2. “Chain Blog: Dealing with divisive issues starts with love” by Arthur
3. “I am divisive” by Jeremy
4. “Chain Blog: Please agree with me” by Jon
5. “Division and our shared humanity” by Andy
6. “Chain Blog: solving the problem” by Bobby
7. “Divisiveness: Acts 2 & Ugly Carpet” by fallenpastor
8. “Stimulating our Collective Memory” by Trista
9. “No, we can’t just get along” by Alan
10. "Who says we are divided?" by Jon
11. “Disunity and the mind of Christ” by Fred