Many people have recognized the value of Christian unity, whether this comes from their own intuition or from Scripture such as Jesus’ prayer, “that all of them may be one … so that the world may believe you sent me.”/1 Unfortunately, the plethora of voices and competing claims of what should exist under the banner of Christian unity can be confusing. Is the goal of unity to promote joining together all who profess Jesus? Who determines, and by what means, is the fellowship of unity created? Using straightforward principles, a biblically-informed and competent understanding of unity is accessible.
1) Approach the Subject with the Proper Goal.
Since radically incongruent ideas and agendas concerning unity have been proposed, it is clear that at least someone has confidently charged out under the banner of unity promoting more of their own vision than the Lord’s. If Scripture is our guide, then we need to have the goal of allowing it to shape the contours and parameters of unity.
2) Understand Who Creates Unity and Where That Unity Is Found
Who makes unity possible? Are we responsible for making unity possible by accepting others or is unity something which God makes? When we look into Scripture, we discover that God’s work through Christ unites the diverse peoples of the world in one body, one universal community in Christ./2 God is the source, not our efforts, for legitimate unity./3 Unity can exist because God unites people through Christ. God has chosen (elected) to include people within the saved community of Christ./4 How can we know who God has brought together? We’ll tackle the answer to this in a later principle, but for the moment we should notice what our role in unity is.
3) Understand the Role God’s People Are to Play in Unity
God’s people are to honor and preserve the unity which God has already created through Christ./5 Christians do not determine with whom they have been united. Human opinion can neither legitimately enlarge nor reduce the actual body of Christ. The human task begins with acknowledging and accepting those whom Christ has already recognized as being a part of the one body of Christ./6
1/ John 17:21
2/ Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 1:9,10,22,23; 2:12,13; John 17:20,21
3/ Ephesians 4:3-7
4/ 2 Thessalonians 2:13,14; Ephesians 1:5-10, 13,14
5/ Ephesians 4:3
6/ Romans 15:5-7
Next article: Biblical Unity For Dummies (2): A Trip To The Zoo