Monday, October 26, 2009
United We Stand ….Divided We Stay Ignorant.
Most people know that American Christians are not known for their charitable attitudes and unity. In fact recent studies indicate that Christians are not even known for their being like Christ (see “UnChristian” a book by David Knnaman and Gabe Lyons.) It appears that to most Christians, being doctrinally correct is more important than getting along with each other or anyone else for that matter. Is the Unity of His Spirit about agreeing on the facts about Christ? If it is, then the “church” has failed miserably for 2000 years. Will mankind really be damned for not having their theology correct? Is this all there is? Did Christ make a mistake risking His validity on His people getting along instead of being biblically correct?
“that they all may be one, as You, Father are in Me and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent me.” (John 17:21)
Is it possible that the whole idea about having the right facts about Christ is not at all what Christ meant about unity when He spoke the aforementioned verse? Though knowing and obeying Christ are crucial in having fellowship with anyone who calls himself a Christian, I would like to submit to the reader that having the correct facts about Christ has little or nothing to do with the Unity of His Spirit. In fact I believe that trying to have all the correct information about Christ is the main reason there is no visible and practical unity in Christianity in this country. He who is primarily built up in knowledge will be subject to arrogance,
“Now concerning things offered to idols; We know that we all have knowledge….(1 Corinthians 8:1)
…and arrogant people cannot get along. If we are to ever reveal the faith that was “once delivered to the Saints” it will begin with knowing that opinions (even correct ones) cannot produce Oneness. The powerful revelatory unity Christ spoke of is only produced when people are dedicated to obeying Christ through loving one another; not trying to sort out the facts about Christ or His scriptures.
Many years ago I was approached by a man who said he wanted to get to know me and have fellowship. Not more than a few minutes into the conversation he asked me if I baptized with emersion or sprinkling. Now I thought that was rather an odd question to ask somebody you desired fellowship with, so I asked him why did he desired to know. His reply basically indicated that he wanted to know what I believed so he could know if he had “unity” with me. I thought for a moment and said that I wouldn’t tell him the answer. He looked very puzzled and asked why? I proceeded to tell him that giving my opinion at this time would not profit either of us nor bring either of us any closer to each other. If I said I agreed with what he considered the correct mode of baptism he would then form a unity with me based on our opinions. If I said something different than he believed he would then separate from me. Neither of our opinions could produce the oneness of Christ so I declined to give my answer. I then began to express my desire for the Unity of the Spirit between us so we could build a lasting relationship that was based on our obedience to Christ’s command to love. He proceeded to tell me that unless we could agree on “the truth” we could not walk together. He then asked me what I would do if I needed to baptize someone and the person didn’t agree with my “interpretation of truth”. I said I would begin walking to the place of baptism and pray for God to bring us into the unity of the Faith. If we could not agree by the time we reached the water and he still wanted me to baptize him, I would ask that we wait on instructions from Christ. If he had wanted someone else to sprinkle him and he did it out of obedience to Christ I would rejoice in his baptism and if it mattered to God He would show him what’s true. My confidence would not be in what I believe about the correct mode of baptism but in the One who cares about us and would see to it that, as we continue to love one another, lead us into all truth. I believe that if we waited together preserving the unity of the Spirit, and the issue really mattered to Him, He will guide us into all truth. The terrible truth is that things we are willing to divide over, usually come from our pride and God hates both our pride and the resulting division. (Luke 16:15) It is interesting that in the 4th chapter of Ephesians the Unity of the Spirit in verse 3 is mentioned before the Unity of the Faith in verse 13. The nine verses in between 3 and 13 are about the importance of us realizing our oneness. The whole chapter seems to indicate that without staying in the Unity of the Spirit we will not attain the Unity of the Faith. It is the oneness with my brothers and sisters that allows the fullness of Christ to be shared among us all. Learning to speak the truth in love to each other keeps us from the trickery and deceitful scheming of men and allows us to attain to the wisdom of understanding that is given to us in Christ, because we are sharing in His Fullness. How horrid is this matter of personal interpretation of the Scriptures coupled with not trusting God. What hatred and cruelty has been unleashed on the sons of men through men’s opinions of scriptures and what they deem “the plain truth”. How Christ’s glory has been drug through the muck and mire of men’s private interpretation of scripture resulting in the revelation of hell instead of Heaven. Doesn’t all of this seem to reveal a fundamental lack of trust in God Himself? If we really believe He is the Truth shouldn’t we trust He will reveal himself to all who truly want to do his will ?( John 7:17) Is He any less capable of appearing to the Sauls of the 21rst century and by His own power change their hardened minds than He was 2000 years ago? Cannot He still set up situations where the “cock crowing” reveals the true condition of the self deceived man? If wives are encouraged to continue in chaste and respectful behavior for the correcting of their disobedient husbands rather than pressing the issue, why can’t we do the same when our brothers disagree with us? (1 Peter 3:1) The answer to these questions is simple ….we don’t trust Him… specifically to do something… so we make a divisive stand for the truth and walk away feeling like a great defenders of the Faith. Our emphasis is not His ….which is to win the brother not the argument. The Lord Jesus has made himself clear…no one will believe that Christ is sent from God because what you are saying is correct, makes sense, or is even biblically correct. They (unbelievers) will know that Christ is sent by God by observing the oneness they in see in you with God and your Christian brothers. (John 17: 20, 21) They will not know that you are His disciple because you know the bible well, go to church, become a pastor, evangelist, missionary, or by correcting them when they cuss, but by the patience and kindness (love) you practice toward your Christian brothers and sisters. It is not what we know about Christ that saves us….rather it’s knowing Christ and it is not what we know about Christ that will save our friends from error…It is our knowing Christ.