Jun 19, 2006

seeking unity as individuals

If any hope for unity (even within Restoration churches) is forthcoming, it will most likely occur because of individual effort rather than as a group.

We have sat around waiting for some sort of unification plan to unfold for years without success. This statement will probably get me in hot water with a few elders, but when you go for years and years with little, if any, plan to rectify our disunity problems, seldom hearing a word about our need for unity from the pulpit, or privately for that matter, I can't help but suspect that many of our leaders are too busy protecting our fenced-in position, and see unity as a low priority endeavor.

Perhaps this approach is oversimplified; but as individuals within a church, we need to find ways to seek unity, even when our church leadership apparently disagrees. It would be great to have our elders leading the way to unity, but my experience (along with many of my brothers and sisters in other RM churches ) give no reasons to believe unity is something being discussed, or pursued, by our leaders.

Rather than waiting for our "church" to initiate (which seldom happens) some sort of unity seminar (or whatever) focusing on drawing divergent churches together, we need to take the proverbial bull-by-the-horns, and within our own hearts have the courage to unite (especially with those we share RM roots) with our brothers and sisters who sport a different name on their "church sign."

I don't know how others approach this disunited mess, but when I talk to my friends in churches with different names on their signs, we discuss our positive feelings about our relationship to God, not accusing each other of our failings, but accepting each other as a part of the Lord's body with love, knowing we are truly brothers and sisters united in His cause.

Unity is certainly an attainable goal that Christians can strive toward without attempting to create every church into a carbon copy of what we think it should be, but with the realization that none of us are perfect (including us,) and we can all dwell together in peace and love fully recognizing each other as children of God; thus brothers and sisters.

13 comments:

L.E.Meredith said...

brother Larry I am blessed with many brothers and sisters who are not members of the CoC but they are members of Christ's family as Christians and if I don't claim them as family, what family am I in.

Larry said...

Laymond...
You and I would surely not be acceptable in some Church of Christ circles. I hope you know that. :)

I already have unity in my heart with others outside our own little tribe, but it will be some time before many of our more conservative brothers/sisters will be able to break out of their traditional prisons and realize the joy we share by accepting, as God's children, those who are just as much a part of God's family as we are.

Milly said...

Larry,
Are you COC or ICOC?
Just wondering.

I’d love to say you’d be excepted in all COC’s but I know you’re right because I’ve been told “I love you anyway” after telling people where my home church is. As for Unity I feel it’s us excepting each other and stopping the lines in the sand. God doesn’t draw them, man does.

Larry said...

Milly...

"Are you COC or ICOC?"

COC; nurtured in a ultra-conservative church providing me with the assumption that we were the one and only true church, and everyone else, well............!

I agree, there are way too many lines drawn in the sand. These lines have become canyons that continue to separate us from enjoying full fellowship with others outside our tribe.

With God all things are possible, so I'm hoping for great strides in our efforts to unite with other Christians

L.E.Meredith said...

Brother Larry I must confess I just don't want to be united with some who claim to be Christians.
I started reading a blog from your list, supposedly writen by a preacher from a northern Church of Christ, I even linked to his blog.But the more I read the more I doubted he was really who he said he was oh I don't doubt he is the pastor of a 1,200 member church and speaks at many christian gatherings, but when you get to know how he feels about others ,you wonder is this man really a christian. I removed his link from my blog, I notice you have also. I just don't want to be united with this kind of Christian.

Milly said...

Larry,
My church teachings and my upbringing at times contradicted each other. My parents left it up to us to decide how we feel on things. Not the typical COC parenting. I was blessed my finding a church that allows for an upbringing like mine. It’s a more relaxed COC.

Feel free to be honest on my site.
:-}

jettybetty said...

I like your *unity* plan Bro. Larry! One person at a time--can make a huge impact!

Larry said...

JB...
Having elders lead us in seeking ways to restore our fellowship, especially with RM churches, would perhaps be the ideal situation; it's just not happening!

"One person at a time" is basically what's left. Becoming friends with our splintered brothers and sisters is a huge step towards uniting the body of Christ.

dannykaye said...

I love the whole topic of unity. The gospel is all about unity: Unity with one another and ultimately unity with God through Jesus.

We are even called to strive for some level (even if surfacy) of unity with those in the world, with the hope of ushering them into their own unity with God.

I have enjoyed taking strides toward unity with those of other denominations. I find that I learn so much more from all the differing viewpoints. The only caution I have is that we don't replace sound doctrine with unity. I can be unified with someone, and still disagree with their doctrinal interpretation of the scriptures.

Lee Hodges said...

We are united already in so much more than divides us. So close, but so far away. I believe also that unity can begin one to one and grow from there.

Larry said...

Jeff...
Like you, I don't propose to adopt any practice that I believe to be unsound, and I don't expect those in other tribes to accept my unsound doctrine.

It's possible (at least for me) to disagree with those in other tribes, yet accept them as my brothers and sisters, and fellowship them in the sense that they are believers in the Lord, very possibly doing the best they can to be obedient to His will, and finally that God loves them just as much as He loves me.

Larry said...

Lee...
There are still many ultra-conservative Christians in this part of the country that are very content with the divisions that separate the RM churches.

Any unity achieved among our splintered RM tribes will occur without the help of these ultra-conservative churches. Unfortunately this legalistic thinking was a part of my life for years, and I know how they react to unity... MY-WAY-OR-THE-HIGHWAY

preacherman said...

Larry,

Good comments.
I enjoyed reading your posts.