UNITY: WITH WHOM? AND TO WHAT DEGREE?
BY DENNIS JOHNSON
“Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
We are hearing much about unity lately. And this is a positive trend. However, striving for unity may be frustrating if we expect too much. Seeking for total unity in every sphere of life and on every level of personal relationships is unrealistic.
With God, we strive for perfect unity. We desire to be completely yielded to His leading in every area. Many Christians feel comfortable that God is indeed guiding their lives and that they are essentially pleasing to Him in every way.
In marriage, many couples eventually achieve nearly total agreement on most matters. Some partners have come to agree on standard of living, styles, habits of personal discipline, preferred styles of music, manners, leisure time activities, child-training principles, problem solving protocol–and on and on. Some couples have been together long enough, talked long enough, loved each other enough, and prayed enough so that they really do have wonderful, near-perfect agreement in virtually every area or matter of consequence.
As to the family, members of some families have been together, played together, prayed together so that they have an extremely high level of agreement on total lifestyle and Christian experience: holiness standards, entertainment options, scholastic goals, level of commitment to daily personal devotions, social deportment, measure of respect due to government officials, favorite preachers and teachers and so on. Often, however, the degree of unity achieved by the family as a whole will be at least slightly less than what is possible strictly between a husband and wife.
Next, let’s consider the local church. If the local church grows beyond the size of a large family-the degree of unity will be somewhat less than in the family. Members’ economic, social, family and educational backgrounds will greatly vary. Although in a given setting (or service) the people can blend their spirits together under the direction and move of the Holy Ghost so that perfect unity of spirit and purpose is achieved for the moment, after the service and as life goes on differences will be evident.
When we go on to consider the different levels of the church organization, the trend continues. The larger the group, the less all-
encompassing the areas of life in which we can be in perfect unity. Effective evangelism and shepherding methods vary from church to church and state to state. When we consider the church on foreign fields–areas of perfect unity shrink even more.
The last days demand that as far as possible we disregard and lay aside personal perspective on minor issues and seek perfect unity on the essentials. What are they? Understanding the oneness of God, receiving the Acts 2:38 message of salvation, and living a life that reflects inward and outward holiness. In short, the Bible message.
If we hope to reach our world, we can’t waste time demanding perfect unity in such matters as styles, manners, educational goals,
standard of living or even outreach methods, worship format or a host of other potential areas of disagreement. Your neighborhood and mine are full of hurting people who are miserable and lost–it’s time to focus our attention on meeting their needs. Forsake holiness? No way! Forsake the new birth message? Never! Lay down contention over some personal perspectives? If that’s what it takes to come together with a unity of purpose and reach our world, yes!
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY APOSTOLIC ACCENT, JUNE, 1998, PAGE 2.
THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.