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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Unity in Christ

Not long after this day began I again experienced something that I hate to admit has become all too frequent lately. I once more became discouraged at what I perceived as the great divisions in the Church. After some prayer and meditation I was encouraged to realize that the Church has been, is and always will be united in Christ regardless of the divisions that exist between the institutions of men. Our love for one another is evidenced in daily living despite the rules and regulations that govern these institutions where we claim membership. Our Lord still reigns over the hearts of His servants even when we disagree. We might all struggle over doctrines and fail in our understanding to one degree or another but we are doers of the word, not hearers only. We still follow Him in love for the Father, for one another and for our neighbor even though we might meet at the places and even subject ourselves to the foolish rules of the institutions. We often gather together spontaneously in an informal fashion so that even we do not say it is we, the Church, but the world still knows it is us because we love one another and better still, He knows.

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27 Comments:

Blogger Joe said...

One of the raps on the modern church is that the world CAN'T see the love we have for one another, especially in the United States. We are so steeped in "our rights" as Americans that we too often think we have "rights" as Christians, when, in fact, we should have given up our rights in favor of doing only what Jesus wants us to do, as outlined in His Word.

Unity comes in direct proportion to our collective focus on Him and Him alone.

7/06/2006 06:44:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

As usual, Joe brings wisdom and insight to the table. It would be interesting to get together sometime to discuss the influence of American freedom and autonomy on contemporary theological practice. Or were the seeds of rugged individualism planted in the rebellion of the reformation?

It's interesting to note that Jesus, the only One who ever really had rights to assert, allowed the drape of injustice to be laid on Himself at every step of His Passion.

Where we have gone wrong is that we have listened to the serpent, who steadily whispers to us to "stand up for truth," "defend the faith," "they're not even believers, blast 'em," "be on your guard against wrong beliefs." As a result, a great many believers would rather spend their time arguing the jot and tittle rather than go do the scary, uncertain kind of stuff that Jesus did. And they convince themselves they're doing God's work.

There will never be hermeneutical unity. That's why Jesus made it easy for us with "Love God, love each other." Still, we don't think that's enough. We continue to parse even those simple commandments.

7/06/2006 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Wise words all from you both as always.

Dorse I think a proper focus on rights and responsibilities is actually half the solution to most of our differences with forgivness being the other half.

If we focus on upholding the rights of others and fulfilling our own responsibilties and add to that the humility to forgive each other then isn't that what Jesus taught us? It all seems to break down when we focus on our rights and demand that others fulfill their responsibilities while being too proud to forgive them when they don't.

7/06/2006 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

The truth of our unity in Christ is so important.

7/06/2006 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Amen Matthew. Thank you brother.

7/06/2006 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

KC, I understand your heaviness over the obvious divisions.

The key to unity and oneness is simply being in Christ, as some have already stated. Whenever our unity is based upon things other than the shed blood of Jesus, we allow cracks to form.

Good post!

7/06/2006 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Jim thanks so much and it's great to see you posting again!

7/06/2006 05:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Danny Kaye said...

"Unity comes in direct proportion to our collective focus on Him and Him alone."

WOW!!! That line preaches!!!

Does anyone know of a scripture that would back that up. It sounds like truth to me. But I can't think of a passage. Maybe Phil. 2?

Hope you don't mind if I steal that one for myself, Joe.

7/07/2006 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

Great thoughts, KC. Unity is not absence of diversity but is a cohesiveness that the grace of God produces through us to overcome our differences and work together. I echo what Danny said about the collective focus on Him. That was an awesome statement.

7/07/2006 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

Hello KC, its good see you back brother.

I agree with you, and Joe's statement.

We are one, unity, in Christ. Christ is the key. Some have exalted unity without Christ though. We who exalt Christ in unity are looked down upon by those who exalt unity above Christ. You know the "we are the world" type unitist(is that a word), the unitist who built the tower of babel and left God out.

7/07/2006 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

I wish I would've written this post. ... or Joe's comment.
My heart is with you on this one as well, kc! Surprise!

7/07/2006 08:24:00 PM  
Blogger Kitty Cheng said...

Amen! The Church will always be united in our Lord Jesus Christ! He reigns, and we follow. I agree with you totally KC.

7/08/2006 03:54:00 AM  
Blogger Redeemed said...

Amen KC. I have learned that the devil wants to destroy that which is precious to the Lord. His people and His church.

He may be the prince of the power of the air now, but one day, the prince of peace is coming (and soon), and He is the great uniter.

7/08/2006 07:26:00 AM  
Blogger curious servant said...

Good perspective.

I've been gone for a bit, and I missed going to church because of it. I post our church's sermons on a blog (there is a link to CAC Sermons on my blog). So yesterday, after returning from the road trip, I read the last sermon before posting it and your post here was in a similar vein.

Interesting how things link inour lives...

7/08/2006 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Good thought. When I am discouraged about this I often think that if persecuted, I would die at the stake with all of those I disagree with. That gives me perspective.

7/09/2006 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

I like Jonathan's comment also!

7/10/2006 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Nellie Bellie said...

It is unfortunate that the body is divided when it comes to which translation Bible to read. Textual Exegesis Reveals... that the blood of Christ is our common ground and someone can get saved reading and NIV or a KJV.

7/10/2006 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger nathaniel adam king said...

Kc, something is different about you. I can't put my finger upon it. You have changed since your most recent 'vacation' or 'sabatical' or whatever you choose to call it.

Regarding division. I was just reading about the Protestant Reformation. McLaren while saying that he believed completely that they were completely right in their reasoning, was somewhat discouraged at the mentality that the reformation produced. The reformers were right to disagree with the Catholic's debaucherous bastardization of the grace of God (I just wanted to practice my inflammatory adjectives...thank you for allowing me space...). But the mentality they produced of 'protesting where one disagrees' has done much damage to the church.

Ever since the reformation we have had no stop in the constant 'protesting and then breaking away' within the churches. That is why we have so many denominations. Rather than sticking with the denomination or larger body and (a) attempting to work through the difference or (b) accepting the differences and rejoicing and cherishing the similarities, it is much easier (as it is within our protestant nature) to break away and begin start anew.

You likewise see what was present during that day. The reformers didn't just break away from the Catholic church, they demonized it. The pope was the antichrist and the church the whore of babylon. You see the same with the modern day protestants. It is not enough to just break from the Southern Baptist denomination, the Indapendent Baptist have to label the SBC as the liberal present day whore of babylone (just to name the example that comes to my mind).

So, I think I am with you with the understanding of division. I had before considered denominations to be good, as they helped for clarification on categories of belief. But I now see that even this is not so. For you do not have a unified belief system within Baptist (or other denominations) but rather a wide range of divergent beliefs even within the denominations. There are Baptist who are more Presbyterian than a lot of Presbyterians (I think I fall into that category...sometimes...depends upon my mood.)

7/10/2006 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Jeff thanks for your thoughts. Joe has a real gift for getting to the heart of the matter. ;-)

Preacher thanks for your wisdom. I’m persuaded that only love would provoke us to try and come to an understanding and that the absence of that love is evidenced by our refusal to communicate with our own brethren.

Kris I know what you’ve said is true. It is not reasonable to seek unity between believers and non-believers but even though we should expect their hatred they should come to expect our love in return. I think that in spite of the popular “there’s no us and them” argument that this contrast is essential and really should be quite stark.

Rose we really must be cut from the same cloth and we agree on Jonathan’s wonderful perspective as well.

Kitty well said. I think if we focus on, and follow Jesus it could result in our unity, even on our earthly journey.

Sarah welcome and thanks for the wise words. We need to be aware that God is not the author of confusion and take it as a warning of satan’s influence.

CS it does seem like He works through so many different means and I believe that has so many implications. We can see His hand at work as well as our relationship in Him.

Jonathan, that is such a wonderful perspective. It really helps to clarify and emphasize where we should place our values as well as reinforcing the need to especially do good to those who are of the household of faith. Thanks so much for the clarity.

Nellie I’m persuaded that we must all learn to have respect for one another’s convictions and to allow each other the space and the time to consider these things. The one thing I’ve found that we all seem to share is the tendency to change our stance on certain issues over time but it does take time and that seems a small gift to those we love.

Dear brother I pray you’ll see less and less of me and more of Him, over time. ;-)
I’ve been diverted by precious trials a bit and I’m sure that might account for the difference somewhat.

I would say your thoughts reflect my perspective well though I admit you have the advantage of me concerning inflammatory adjectives (grin). I would also add that I do not see the Reformers as the origin of these troubles. I credit the first state church with the original formal division and there were many more even before the Reformation although I would agree that the Reformation seems to have increased the frequency exponentially. I would also say that the solution is in being doers of the word, and not hearers only. ;-)

7/11/2006 04:52:00 AM  
Blogger Hugo said...

The Catholic church, at every single Mass celebrated, prays for unity among we who call ourselves Christians. I think part of the problem is that we as Christians (as other posters have pointed out) tend to focus on our differences rather then on our similarities, and we tend to exxagerate those differences to the point of silliness.

I continually pray for greater unity, and one well spring of hope for this is the community I've seen spring up on teh internet, where people of different denominations and differing faiths can at least try to come togetehr for some discussion (like this!). :-)

Blessings & Peace,
Hugo

7/11/2006 10:10:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Hugo it’s really great to have your thoughts here again and I think your perspective could be invaluable in this area. I am persuaded that unity is something we must strive for but like perfection can only be achieved in Christ.

It seems to me that one of the greatest deterrents to unity are the denominational institutions that lead men away from a body that is led by The Spirit and whose head is Christ. I think the lines of communication that are opened here on the web are not tethered to those institutions making it possible for us to actually address some of the differences as opposed to pointing at each other from across the denominational fences. I am prayerful that will continue and that the web will have an impact similar to the printing press.

7/12/2006 06:18:00 AM  
Blogger jazzycat said...

(We might all struggle over doctrines and fail in our understanding to one degree or another but we are doers of the word, not hearers only.)

Amen brother....

Jazzycat

7/12/2006 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Thanks Jazzy. ;-)

7/12/2006 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger pecheur said...

Unity among Christians and Churches.

This too has caused major struggles within certain personae of church history.

7/13/2006 07:32:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

I'm willing to struggle. ;-)

7/14/2006 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger Kitty Cheng said...

Wow Kc, I often find it hard to struggle, but I guess being willing to struggle and grappling with faith issues is extremely important.

7/14/2006 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Hugo said...

Glad to be back :-) And I understand about denominational differences . . . there are times when denominational rules and regulations seem to get in the way of being truly Christain . . . but then there are times when those same denominational guidelines help bolster faith and devotion. :-) Denominations - can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em! :-)

Blessings & Peace,
Hugo

7/14/2006 08:58:00 PM  

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