Jun 2, 2006

variations of unity

Understanding unity when applied to uniting different "churches" into one united body often becomes a little confusing, at least to me. When we speak of unity with other Christians, just what kind of unity are we seeking?

Listed below are four variations of unity (there are many more,) each with a different set of circumstances that will require radically different approaches if we're honestly seeking to unite in fellowship with those we disagree with religiously:

Unity within a particular tribe ... All the believers at one location who proclaim themselves the body of Christ, and work together as a separate church, yet are part of a larger group of churches sharing the same "church name," and belief system.

Unity between the individual churches (as described above) who all share the same "church name," but retain their autonomy while being loosely knit together forming a larger body, or denomination, of those who together (occasionally at least,) share similar beliefs.

Unity within the Restoration Movement. Churches with roots in the Stone-Campbell Movement who have divided many times over the years, and now seldom recognize each other as a viable Christian body.

Unity involving all churches regardless of their denominational name, who profess Jesus as their savior, even if there are drastic differences in their belief system.

It seems unlikely, if not impossible, to have Christian unity when one tribe presumes they alone are perfect interpreters of Gods Word, and refuse to fellowship anyone with a different opinion. Unity in Christ will only exist if we recognize that each person, or church, will never be the exact clone of the other.

In a small community where I was raised, one Church of Christ split over time into three separate tribes each sporting the Church of Christ name over their door. Each of these churches claimed to be the ONE and ONLY true body of Christ, and each believed they were following the perfect pattern of the first century church. They were not bashful about bad-mouthing each other, and totally refused to recognize each other as a body of Christ. A multiplicity of churches, each proclaiming themselves as the one and only body of Christ, is totally confusing to the unchurched; confusing enough to those already in the Lord's body.

Sitting around twiddling-our-thumbs waiting for churches we feel have apostatized to repent of their folly and come running back to the original fold is just not going to happen. Many of the churches split from the COC are content where they are; they see no need to return and resume the same old bickering that caused the divisions in the first place.

Unity within a single tribe of Christians, while difficult, is usually realized to some degree, but unity with those outside our select group can approach the impossible!

14 comments:

jettybetty said...

It's amazing how much damage has been done in the name of being *right*. I think the unchurched must be totally confused.

I am hopeful--in my lifetime I have already experienced unity with other believers that I would have never thought possible just a few years ago!

Larry said...

JB...
Unity with other believers is certainly possible by individual Christians.

Usually when the church hierarchy gets involved everything seems to come to a screeching halt.

jettybetty said...

Great point Larry, sad but true--it's hard to unify when entire churches attempt such a feat.

Are you familiar with this: this
It's a meeting to bring the CofC and conservative Christian churches back into fellowship.

Of course, I know that some CofCer's (and probably some Christian churchers) won't approve--but we think it's sooo exciting--Lord willing, we will try to attend!

Milly said...

Larry,

The thing is that when we say Unity we automatically go to the thought that we are looking to united as one” The Big Merge.” I don’t think that’s the plan. In Tulsa the plan was to try to undo the damage a bit by inviting the Christian Churches to join The COCs in worshiping God. It was met with mixed feeling and a bit of fear on both sides. Christians don’t like change at times. I believe it was a great step in the right direction.

Larry said...

Milly...
One big surge towards total church unity would be great, but I agree it's not what's being planned.

Unity begins with you and me; if we extend our hand in fellowship to those who are believers (even if they use one cup, or many,) we are sure to get their attention.

We can push unity ourselves without waiting around for some unity movement-which probably won't have much effect, even if attempted.

Larry said...

JB...
The web site you mentioned certainly seems to have some merit. If we could multiply this effort several hundred times it would be something to behold.

Too often our idea of unity is to wait until those who left get their heads on straight and return to the perfect church.

jettybetty said...

The *perfect* church--where is that one?

L.E.Meredith said...

Until we realize we will never be unified except at the head we will continue to work to bring people to our way of doing things, this will never happen, it was never expected to happen. Read ICor :12 the body of christ is ruled and guided by the head (Christ) just as the human body is guided by the human head (the brain) what do you think would happen if the right foot talked the left foot into doing the exact same thing as Mr right. if this were to happen and the right foot kicked, and the left foot kicked, the body would not have a leg to stand on. we are not told to do as the other does we are told to do as God tells each to do.
ICor:12;4: Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5: And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6: And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
I believe we are to be one in God and one belief that Christ is the Son. I believe the first step could be to call Sunday morning assembly what it is (assembly of Praise) We assemble as Disciples of Christ to give praise to the one God, to remember the one Son, and to edify the disciples. Most division is over worship, worship should be a 24/7 thing and should not have certain rules and regulations worship The LORD 24/7 assemble with fellow disciples to praise God in word,song and spirit.
Just what I think

Lee Hodges said...

The Rabbi's Yoke of the first century was that Rabbi's understanding of the Torah. His intrepretations. The people of Jesus day debated the teachings of different Rabbis as to who was right on this or that. As it was, so shall it ever be IMHO.

Human beings will never agree on everthing. Until the focus is on the "Head" of the body (as l.e. stated) we don't have a hope of unity.

Larry said...

Laymond...

While many RM churches differ (often in trivial ways,) I don't see them missing Jesus as being the focal point, or head of the church.

Surely it's possible to recognize as brothers & sisters those (especially in the RM churches) who love the same Jesus we do, without feeling they are doomed forever because they don't share some of our specific beliefs.

I don't expect the Disciples of Christ to give up anything they hold in clear conscience as being scriptural, anymore than I expect those in the COC to concede anything they hold in a pure conscience.

I see no reason we can't have unity in love, and obedience to the same Lord, even when we don't agree 100% on the particulars.

Milly said...

I see no reason we can't have unity in love, and obedience to the same Lord, even when we don't agree 100% on the particulars.

AMEN!


I had a conversation this morning with someone and posted it on my site. Saying something about this.

God is moving us.

Larry said...

Lee..
Did you ever find your doll? Sorry, I just had to say that. :)

While Christians will always differ, it would be nice to disagree agreeably.

Churches (especially in the RM) often won't even talk to each other because they can't agree on how many cups to use at the communion table, this is sad.

We can be united in love with one heart, and one spirit to Christ as the head of the church, even if some of us have different wording on our "church" signs.

Pastor Josh said...

If we would start at the head(Jesus) and work down. We would have the same beliefs and thoughts and we would be unified already. To the sinners the best thing we can do is show them by our actions and words. IF they see christians bickering about other christains. What is that showing them. Also Larry you've been tagged. Find out what to do on my blog.

Larry said...

pastor josh...
Your absolutely right...continual bickering between those proclaiming to love each other show the unchurched we're not practicing what we preach.

Those in the world seldom fail to note any discord they notice in our Christian walk, and many take great pleasure in throwing this in our faces when we attempt to show them a better way.