A Woman's Perspective On The Times We Live In


August 10, 2016

The Complex Concept of Unity in the Church

     The idea of unity may seem easy to define:  a coalition; harmony, a consensus, solidarity, oneness. And certainly, we get the idea of unity in the Church as a good thing; a concept that is expressed numerous times in the Bible ... Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind (1 Peter 3:8);  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); and Knowing their thoughts, He said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand (Matthew 12:25).
     From this sample of verses, we know that unity among the brethren is desired by God.  But from where I stand, there seems to be a growing disharmony and imbalance in the overall picture of the Church -- especially if you try to bring any new understanding to a church that is bound by traditional doctrine. Try bringing any concept of the supernatural, for instance, to a mainstream denomination, and I'm willing to bet that you will be labeled "extremist" or "radical", or at the very least misguided, misinformed and believing in false teachings.  I think it's safe to say that your opinion will not be readily accepted.
     Then try to show that God is bigger than your church's set-in-stone doctrine; that the Bible tells us, For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.  Try reinforcing what this verse tells us -- we are all part of one body; one Spirit binds us together in Jesus; and because God is so big, He may be revealing to different members [of this Body of Christ] different aspects of Himself because He needs us serving different purposes to get His will accomplished.  You may not be familiar with, or comfortable with, someone else's purpose, but who are we to dismiss the assignments God makes?  Again, I would be willing to bet that most churches (or Christians) are unable to imagine God outside the box they have put Him in.
     So, I have to ask myself, "Does God always want unity in the Church"?  I guess it depends on if that unified position honors Him and His Word, doesn't it?  Certainly, a church in the 1960's united in denying attendance to Black people would not be blessed by God.  And today, a unified church that performs same-sex marriages would not be honoring God's Word.  So, can we agree that there are times that unity within the church can stifle or limit the Kingdom of God on earth?
      Just consider that God used Martin Luther to break a Church that had become unified in practices of corruption which suggested that "works" could achieve one's salvation on par with "faith by grace".  Had the Reformation not happened -- and the unity of corruption been challenged -- the dishonesty and greed that marked the Church at that time would have kept the world in the Dark Ages.  That being said, I know that division within the Church is not the will of God.  Yet I do believe that God sometimes encourages (through the guidance of the Holy Spirit) divinely orchestrated conflict so that new forms of Christian witness can be spoken which will expand the knowledge of Himself and increase the effectiveness of the Church.
     I also think that sometimes unity within the Body of Christ can result in stagnation.  By that, I mean that the effectiveness of a Church, rigid in its theology, can cease to develop; can become inactive or dull, or just "stuck" and not advancing the revelation of God.   I believe that it is sometimes advantageous for God to raise up someone who challenges the conventional practices and belief systems in order to reveal more of Himself.  That is what happened during the Reformation, and I do not think God acts any differently today.
     For instance, God has begun revealing to me the pervasive influence of Freemasonry within the Church. (See this post).  But since this false religion has been shrouded in a veil of "charity" and "good works", the majority of the Church is blinded to its unholy influence within their congregations.  Simply said, if there is a member of good standing in the congregation, who also happens to be a Mason, then the members of a Church often choose to ignore it because they don't want to upset the apple cart, so to speak, or cause any disharmony or division.  So, are we to accept, without question, Freemasonry and its associations with witchcraft just so the Church can stay unified?
     And let's consider the question of our Power and Authority.  If unity within the Church is disrupted due to different opinions about Cessationism -- the doctrine that spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, prophecy, and healing (both physical and spiritual), ceased with the original twelve apostles -- is that a good or bad thing for the Church?
"On earth as it is in heaven"
Try to follow me as my mind tries to zero in on what the Holy Spirit wants me to express ... If Jesus taught us to pray "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven", then it is imperative that we understand what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.  Can we accept that the briefest and most comprehensive way to explain it is that Heaven is a region in the universe where the will of God is at present being perfectly and universally done?  That God is King of this region called Heaven, and therefore Heaven is His Kingdom? So, we are to pray that his good and perfect and universal will should be accomplished here on earth, just as it is in Heaven, resulting in a corresponding Kingdom where God is King.
     But what is His perfect and all-embracing will?  I believe that He sent His Son to show us, in human form, what His will is; what pleases Him -- that all people would be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.  His perfect will was enacted by Jesus, who made it very clear that "the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does" ... that is an expression of "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven".  So whatever Jesus did on earth was what the Father wanted accomplished.  And we are emphatically told in the Bible that Jesus is our example, and we must follow in His footsteps.
     So now, I will attempt to close my argument ... if we are to do as Jesus did, which was the perfect will of the Father, then preaching the gospel to the lost; healing the sick; casting out demons; and miracles, signs, and wonders should be part of our Christian experience.  If this is what God wants us to do (and it was certainly what He wanted Jesus to do), then might it be a good thing that the Church is engaging in this kind of disparate discussion?  Might we not emerge from this conflict between our theologies with a broader mandate from God as to how to carry out our Commission? Do any of us really want to limit what God can still do among and through the people of the world (both lost and saved)?
     I will agree wholeheartedly that a unified Body of Christ can be a powerful arm of the Lord.  But I also never want to put a limit on what I think God wants to teach us.  I would never be so arrogant as to assume that we had reached the pinnacle of how God wants us to serve Him or each other.  The fact that this earth is far from being "as it is in Heaven" should be apparent to everyone.  So, obviously, we still have work to do to achieve God's perfect will.  So, we cannot let unity be our goal, at the expense of a greater knowledge of God's Truth.  And if it takes some conflict within the Body of Christ to reveal another facet of God's will, then we must explore it, test it by the Spirit, and make sure that it ultimately glorifies Him.  If it does, then the true believers will come together in a spirit of unity, and we will be one step closer to furthering Heaven on earth.
     So, to sum it all up, unity within the Body of Christ is desired as an expression of our commitment to seeing God's will done.  But unity must not supersede Divine revelation; it must not become a stumbling block to a greater knowledge of what God's will is, or an obstacle to our growth towards God's Kingdom, Power and Glory on earth.  We must not mistake uniformity for unity ... nor let disagreement become division.  After, all isn't a little discomfort worth the deeper dive into God's Word?  Jesus challenged the theological traditions of His day to reveal the true nature of God ... it's not a bad thing to follow His example.

Ephesians 4:15-16    "But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ. From Him the whole body [the church, in all its various parts], joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, when each part is working properly, causes the body to grow and mature, building itself up in [unselfish] love." 
     

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