Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Who says we are divided?

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.

Related Posts:

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Chain blog rules:

1) If you would like to write the next blog post (link) in this chain, leave a comment stating that you would like to do so. If someone else has already requested to write the next link, then please wait for that blog post and leave a comment there requesting to write the following link.

2) Feel free to leave comments here and discuss items in this blog post without taking part in the actual “chain”. Your comments and discussion are very important in this chain blog.

3) When you write a link in this chain, please reply in the comments of the previous post to let everyone know that your link is ready. Also, please try to keep an updated list of links in the chain at the bottom of your post, and please include these rules at the bottom of your post.

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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

6 comments:

Al said...

Paul says 'there IS one body.' and 'KEEP the unity of the Spirit'. Maybe Jesus has always been saying: "You might think your theology is better than someone else's, but you are all really part of the same Kingdom. You can't count anyone out if I say they are OK. Learn to get along."

Although I definitely find it a challenge, I have to like the idea of a 'generous orthodoxy'. I have to value the love of Jesus in others, even if I think their theology might be off track.

I have to agree with you--unity isn't something to be negotiated, but something to be recognized as already existent. It is something to be celebrated.

Jonathan said...

Thanks Al. I agree. Yes, I think too often we find it a challenge to let God be God. We like to be judge and jury ourselves. But we really are not that good at it.

As a parent I hear my children accusing each other of wrong. They don't naturally notice on their own that they are also partially to blame. They often are not reliable judges when it comes to family unity. And I'm not the perfect Father...

Now consider the family of God. The children may think they can judge well... but we'd be better off leaving it to our Father.

Alan Knox said...

Jon,

Yes, this is an excellent addition to the chain blog!

And your point is exactly right! We ARE united... and when we live in that unity in Christ we are leading others.

-Alan

co_heir said...

I have written the next post in the chain at: http://fredshope.blogspot.com/2011/06/disunity-and-mind-of-christ.html

Jeremy Myers said...

I REALLY like this.

Technically, I suppose it means that we can still have "church splits" but remain unified as "the church"?

Of course, now that I say that, it sounds like of...I don't know... like a way to get around the issue of unity.

I think you're on the right track.

Jonathan said...

Thanks Jeremy for the comment. I'm glad if it makes some sense to you. Often things that seem clear to me, are not so clear to others.... and that can either mean I'm nuts, or everyone else is nuts. :)

I don't know if it's just a way to word it to get around the issue.

If by "church" we mean a specific church organization, which is separated from others, a church split has already occurred. The whole concept of denominations and autonomous churches hinges on our acceptance of divisions.

But if we reject the concept that church is an organization built on divisions... but rather church is simply all the people in Christ's kingdom... then we are simply left with relationships.

Since I can't build united relationships with everyone on the planet, I suspect I am simply called to build loving and respectful relationships with everyone God brings my way.

And if others do that in return, we have unity.

Yes... possibly too simple minded. But I'm going to stick with this plan until some greater plan comes my way.