Can we as Christians be united?

unitystrengthThis question is, I believe, a very important one, and one which isn’t being asked much at all in my opinion. As Christians I don’t think anyone would say unity is not important, in fact just ask Christians what draws down God’s blessing and unity will be right up there if not the most important thing.

So why are we so disunited. This is also an easy question to answer because we all know the reason is that we don’t agree on certain issues. Now while it is an easy question to answer it is not a easy problem to fix, but I would at least like to open up some dialogue around this issue.

On a tangent this question has been haunting me; you know how we have always said that once the Gospel is preached to every tongue and every tribe on the earth, then the End can come, then Jesus can come. If that’s the criteria, we are almost there due to the advances in technology and communication. But what if He doesn’t come, then what do we do? What if Jesus will only come when his Church is united? Then He may never come? How important is the question of unity?

It seems to me the question of unity is almost an embarrassing question for Christians because we know we should  be, but we aren’t so it’s best to live in some sort of denial and busy our churches with other, very worthwhile, causes that we can fix.

I think one of the reasons we can’t solve the issue is that we have made the basis for our unity a common or shared belief system. We see ourselves as defenders of God’s truth, we can’t water it down with words like tolerance or compromise, so we feel justified when we break off relationships to protect Gods word and keep it pure. (Does this approach not make us, and not God himself, the judges of what is truth?)

It’s like when I was planting a church just outside Los Angeles, we decided to have a Super Bowl Party as a way to reach out to our friends who weren’t Christians. However it was not long before someone asked whether we should allow people to drink alcohol at the party. Sadly because the group wasn’t prepared to have alcohol the party never happened. Talk about self-defeating.

So here is my contribution towards unity, however small it is. Instead of making our beliefs the basis for unity, can we make Jesus our basis for unity and his self sacrificial love the way/evidence we use to practice this unity with each other. How would that look?

I am not saying we all have to leave our congregations, denominations or movements. To do that would be too complicated, messy and take too long. Rather could we reach across our boundaries and share Jesus with each other. Can we lay down our agenda’s and our desires and instead love each other? It will be difficult, so much of our identities are tied to the beliefs and congregations, denominations or movements. I hope we can follow Jesus, leaving behind our “Jerusalem’s”, to our own golgotha, joining Jesus in a display of self-sacrificing love for all to see.

Any thoughts?

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13 thoughts on “Can we as Christians be united?

  1. Hi Justin, I will give you 2 answers and I will swear to both as being perfectly accurate 🙂
    I re-read what I wrote below and it “sounds” very directive, it is not meant that way, just do not know how else to write it…

    Answer one:

    The first question will be: Then who will run it? Because contrary to what we believe or admit, the headship of MAN is undisputed (yes MAN). And because of all the ego’s, it will immediately split because man is incapable of unity. There will always be something someone can simply not agree with. One of the reasons the reformers split, was the value of the bread (trans substantiation or something) one group believed it becomes Christ, another that it simply stays bread. It was not the bread, it was the fact that man needs to be right.

    Answer two:

    We are united! Can Christ be divided? Unity does not lie in our admission or pursuit of it, Unity lies in the realization that as a body, their is no division (makes me think of the spoon in matrix). Then why the division, because we do not allow ourselves to think spiritual or eternal, we are stuck in the temporal for fear of being labeled mystic or dualism or weird or new-age or whatever. The fact remains: God is Spirit, and His environment is Spirit and his Life is Spirit and we have inside of us the Holy Spirit united with our Spirit. And when we fellowship with God and with brothers and sister, we fellowship in Spirit and in unity and that is where the unity lies, that is where 1 Cor 13 finds its value, when people can speak in languages and believe in it (Or Not) and love, and people have faith to move mountains and believe in it(or Not) and love, and people prophecy and believe in it (or Not) and love. Because love covers all, believes all, hopes all, perseveres etc.

    So there it is. Do we look at man and find a human solution or do we look at Christ and live in the solution? We are missing out on the realities of Jesus Christ because we look at Christ and try to understand Christ through our human minds first. While revelation is through our Spirit, then into our understanding (of course I do not mean understanding contrary to scripture).

    Courses and books on unity has no chance of success as long as it suggests that we can REACH unity. We are united and until we can see that in Spirit, we will stay divided in the world.

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    1. Good morning Justin – Thank you for your well written blog. It’s been awhile and I pray our Heavenly Father is richly blessing you and your family. My two daughters have grown – one is a freshman and the other a senior. Being a woman of God and raising two daughters is both challenging and rewarding.

      United/unity – Jesus Christ is the core – a precious gift from God – Jesus doesn’t force any one to follow Him and everything is done with love. Being human and attempting to do it “our” fall is prideful. God demonstrated His love by giving His only Son. When the Son, Jesus Christ, departed this earth we were given the gift of His Holy Spirit. With such a gift we are able to “love”. Each one of us fall short, yet with His love and forgiveness we are able to forgive others and our self. With today’s technology the gospel is rapidly spreading throughout the Earth. The accountability of being a Christian is following Jesus for He is our example. We are commanded to make disciples of men. Keeping our eyes on Him while serving others and loving as Christ loves us. To some people we may be the only Bible that they know. Each one of us will stand before God and my prayer is to hear, “well done my good and faithful servant”. To be called His handmaiden is truly an honor. Take care – and may our Lord’s peace sustain you. EvaLee

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      1. Thanks EvaLee, appreciate your comments. Yes we are doing well, I caught a glimpse of your oldest daughter on facebook the other day and couldn’t believe how much she has grown up.

        I reckon the best way to practice unity is Jesus love and EvaLee’s pizza 😉

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  2. I really enjoyed the blog…

    By way of further debate, why does Jesus in Jn. 17 pray for a ‘more complete unity’ among his followers? Does our heavenly unity have no manifestation in this world, i.e. on earth? There certainly is a primary, invisible unity of believers ‘in Christ’ – but is there no visible unity among followers of Christ here on the earth? (I’m not here buying into that organisational unity as pursued by the Ecumenical Movement) Just asking…

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  3. Just two quick thought for our discussion.

    Thought 1: If we have to have someone lead it, it will become divided again. What we need is God working in us so that we will be willing to lay down our arguments, agenda and reach towards fellow brothers and sisters. I am thinking here of grass roots, average Joe’s and Jane’s not waiting for their pastor to do it but rather developing genuine relationship with others from different groups and then giving expression to God’s Kingdom through that friendship.

    Thought 2: When I write here about unity, I am talking about what people in the streets see, so in essence we can’t answer the question until those outside of our communities have answered it for us. I believe there is enough evidence in early church life that society saw the unity of christian community and it was them that call it church. The visible unity of christian brothers and sisters became something attractive to those outside of it and it won them over because of the genuine love.

    I think it does start with our identity in heaven, but must be visible to the world. Ghandi was asked if he was a christian, and he answered “Ask the poor”, I suppose that’s what I am trying to ask about unity.

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    1. I can really go along with that… Jn. 17:20-21, “I pray… that all of them may be one… that the world may believe that you have sent me.” cf. Jn. 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

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      1. Then what is next Errol? Tell people to love one another? Give them some pointers as to how to do that? Like it has been done for the past 17 centuries? “If you keep on doing what you have done, you will keep on getting what you got”. All I am suggesting is that we should consider that our source is carnal. carnal ideas, carnal interpretations, carnal traditions and rules and we are set in our ways. We have inside of us a higher life, the Christian Life so my interpretation of Jesus words are. “Love one another as I have loved you”, “Soon I will be inside of you then I will love one another through you”, what is impossible to man is possible to God and we will not love on another unless we submit to the cross to rid us of the will of man to the will of God.

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      2. Christo, I don’t think we disagree on the source, we all agree that Jesus is the source, we have graciously been placed into Christ by God himself.

        What I was trying to address is that because we participate in self-defeating activities, the very unity we seek and know is right, the very unity we have in Jesus cannot be released and made visible

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    2. Hi Justin I do not talk about this stuff out loud often, and I am also “just saying out loud” what I am thinking, it is just easier to flesh it out that way, so I do not think the idea is anything that anyone says as final but to just put all the options on the table right? So that we have more to use to make up our minds? We all experience stuff differently. I just found to allow everyone to say it in their own voices, allows for more clarity and honesty :-). If I sound too argumentative, then forgive me :-), I often say what I can in english and not what I want :-). I do appreciate the subjects you come up with, it is refreshing, sincere and relevant. hope this is cool.

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      1. No worries dude, it is important to be able to share what’s on our mind and hearts, Jesus is our source and goal and I appreciate your sharing as it helps me work through what I am trying to communicate too.

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  4. It is long… sorry..

    Hi Errol, Justin, if I may,

    I think John 17 to me is Jesus kind of asking: “Father, please now seal our effort as complete and pure and finished”. this was the second creation, the new creation and just like after the first creation when God said “It is Good”, this was Jesus prayer to echo the words of the Father (remember Jesus said “I only say/do what the Father tells me to say/do” (john 5 and john 12)). So this is the father telling us that “It is Good again”

    So in verse 11, Jesus says that our oneness, our unity, is secured by God protecting us by His name.

    11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of[b] your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.

    In verse 22, Jesus says we are one as they are one because He gave his glory to us, and it is because He is in us and God is in Him that is bringing us to complete unity (oneness).

    21b May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity

    In all three these cases, what is clear, is that the oneness (which I believe is much more that just unity) is the Lord’s work. Never is it said, Father teach them to be one, or gather them unto unity or something like that, it is all because certain things are DONE and TRUE in God that oneness exists.

    We do not progress to oneness, we are one and faith is to believe what we can not see….

    For me the interesting verse is verse 24. Note the tense: “I want them to be with me where I am”, where was Christ? Among them…. but where was he? Within His Father and with his Father in the eternals.

    24 “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.”

    Certainly it is the manifestation of that eternal unity that draws others in. It was the Lords knowledge en memory of being with the Father that allowed him to relay the heavenlies to us. To live and express eternity on earth.

    And that is what he is asking the Father here: “Father let them SEE what I SEE” and when we saw it, when the mystery of the unity has been revealed, we will not ask anymore, but simply live it.

    To explain it further, it would be like a boy being told he owns a storeroom of gold but is never shown it… but is told to live rich as if it is true. I am not sure that is faith though… but when one day as Jesus said “I want them to be where I am”, he peeks into the storeroom and see the stack of gold… no one will ever be able to convince him again he is not rich!! Unless he is gets deceived…

    My point is, we first need the revelation that we are one, and we are one. As Christians, new Creations we can not distinguish between the heavenly oneness and the worldly unity, the life inside of us makes us one.

    Just like we are not human because we act like humans, but act like humans because we are human, we do not become one by acting as one. We are one body and that is the revelation we need: who we are.

    There are so many things over the centuries that is true “On earth as it is in heaven” that we turned around to somehow become our responsibility to generate.

    And I think that is the problem, instead of learning to rest in the finished work of Christ, we are taught to generate the work of Christ. By this I am not suggesting “faith without works”. I am suggesting Faith BEFORE works. Thereby saying before we do not believe we are one, trying to be one is futile.

    Again I want to mention that what we understand under “unity” is not necessarily the same as “Oneness”. A body is one, and unity can mean all walk the same which is not the case with oneness. There is much to explore there…

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  5. I loved reading your thoughts and others comments on unity and would love to add my simple thought , something the Lord has shown me along the way… Every church / ministry has a certain flavour beCause people are so different. We are the church, not the building, and all churches can’t be the same, because God made us all unique and different. Disunity comes when we put churches and others into the “wrong” category, simply because they are different. Some churches are “out there”, others are quiet. Some teach one doctrine, others teach another. The problem is when we think our way is the only way, instead of understanding that their are differences. Disregarding a church because of their differences is the same as disregarding a person because they are different. If we can embrace each other’s differences, even when we don’t agree with them, then there is unity. Bless you!

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    1. Thanks for your comments. I totally agree with you, we need to celebrate our differences and instead of trying to be Jesus to these people we would do well to find Jesus in these people

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