“That’s how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ, as well as part of one another.”
Romans 12:5, CEV
When we follow Jesus, we will not make any real progress unless we commit to following him together. We grow to the wonderful point when we start to understand that our essential unity is the work of God in our hearts. He purposefully blends us–our spirits, personality and thoughts.
We learn we can’t make it alone. I am an American Christian, and independence is a characteristic of my culture. We inherently become people who ride hard and ride alone. There is not room for two where I am going. If you get there, I guess we’ll be brothers.
Having lived my faith in another culture, a different mentality completely. I had to learn to reach out to another way of thinking. I discovered that my new understanding had to include others. If we win, it is because we are a team. We had to think in terms of ”team mentality.” Soccer was the national sport of my new country–I don’t think it has been successful in the U.S. because its a true team sport.
“Above all else, you must live in a way that brings honor to the good news about Christ. Then, whether I visit you or not, I will hear that all of you think alike. I will know that you are working together and that you are struggling side by side to get others to believe the good news.”
Philippians 1:27, CEV
Unity will leave its mark. If we choose this particular approach we need to “think alike”. That takes a bit of a miracle sometimes. But this intrinsic unity has become the norm. We are very used to the idea of Jesus saving individual men and women. But it is a long leap for us to believe that we are saved through groups–called Churches. I’m starting to understand that this is how things work, to a large degree. Philippians 1 delineates the “unity” issue.
“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”
1 Corinthians 1:10, ESV
No. Absolutely zero. Divisions. There is to be agreement in every person. There is to be a unity, in the very specific area of our thinking and our discernment. And this is sent to us in Jesus’ name. Paul understands that the name of Jesus (the Lord and Christ) is to have a definite preeminence, and his wonderful authority was to lead us to this unity.
The implications are this–not agreeing to Jesus’ authority, divides the Church. Simple. And that is exactly how we are to understand these issues. We don’t need to be “rocket-science theologians” here, after all Paul was directing his remarks to simple believers. He believed that they would understand.
How committed are you to unity in your town? The Church gathers on Saturday or Sunday (almost always). The believers that attend are your brothers and sisters. They come to worship and pray, and hear the Word. Do we dare to assume, (maximum arrogance is needed here), that we (of all people) have become their judges? It is an interesting point that when Paul refers to the Church, and John in the Book of Revelation–it is connected to geography. It is the “Church of Rome” or the “Church of the Colossians”. Thinking this way, will change how you visualize the Church of Jesus.
“In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity.”