- Today: 10:00 Worship; 11:00Making Peace Seminar
- Monday @ 5:30 p.m.: Girl Scouts
- Tuesday Bible Study: @ Jeremiah’s, 2 p.m.
- Wednesday: Spiritual Council @ 11; Strategic Planning, 7 p.m.,
- AA Meetings: in the Parish Hall:
- Tuesdays, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. – Discussion
- Wednesdays, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Big Book
- Fridays 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Discussion
Making Peace Seminar Today!
Sewton 8 of this this 12-week video series by Jim Van Yperen based on his book, Making Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Church Conflict. Meetings will be Sunday mornings, 11:00 a.m.
(…continued) Doing Christian Unity
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”–Ephesians 4:11-14
Here Paul provides the central task of the Christian church, the body of Christ: building up the body of Christ. This is the work that will produce the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. This is the calling and mission of the church, and particularly of the local church because all biblical expressions of the church are local. Even the universal church must have local presence in order to be real. The universal church is not an alternative to the local church where Christians can choose to belong to one or the other. Rather, Christianity requires both.
Consequently, Christian unity is the result of equipping the saints, the work of ministry and the building up of the body of Christ, the church. Where unity is absent, these tasks are undervalued and disengaged.
Unity is the product of work, of doing. While Christians are brought into union with Christ by the work of Christ alone, Christian unity is achieved indirectly, by equipping, working and building. Christian unity cannot be achieved directly by committees, pronouncements, or synods. Rather, Christian unity grows organically out of the committed work of sanctification, of growth and maturity in Christ.
However, we can equally well argue that unity is the product of being in Christ. Because Christians are already in Christ and Christ is not out of unity with His own body Christian unity is the first assumption of those who find themselves in Christ. Here we see that Christian unity is not an achievement at all—it is, rather, a gift. But it is not a gift that is given to individual Christians and their local churches, but it is a gift that is given through individual Christians and their local churches. The gift of unity in Christ is not for us to keep for ourselves. Rather, it is for us to give to others. It is not a gift that we receive, it is a gift that we give—because if we do not give it to others it cannot be all that God wants it to be, because we have withheld it. And by withholding it we exclude ourselves from the unity of the body of Christ, which excludes us from the wholeness of Christ Himself and threatens our ultimate salvation.
Thus, it is by giving the gift of unity that we receive it. By giving it away we give ourselves to It, to the unity of the church in Christ. This, however, does not mean that we all must give up doctrine or doctrinal discussion. No, to give up doctrine is to lose Christianity. Rather, it means that we must engage doctrinal discussion all the more. And in the midst of that discussion, we must hold fast to what is true—to the best expressions of that truth, and we must also let go of those lesser expressions that have historically divided the wholeness of the body of Christ—the church. What can we let go? And what must we hold on to?
These are important questions, but they cannot be answered before we engage other Christians in doctrinal discussions. Rather, these questions must be maintained in the midst of such discussion. There can be no ultimate answers to such questions because people continue to grow and mature in Christ, and as they do, their understanding of theology also grows and matures. In addition, new people are always joining in the discussion, so the answers are always in the process of flux. Just because you or I answer these questions for ourselves (or our denominations) does not mean that those answers are eternally set in stone. Christians must come to the discussions willing to argue their respective positions without being willing to separate and divide from those who disagree. The disagreement provides the joy of sanctification. There will always be disagreements. That’s what makes life interesting. No one will answer these questions for us, so we must answer them for ourselves.