Christians only

The first Christians – and the only Christians – for around ten years following the Day of Pentecost were of a Jewish background. They had been looking forward to the Messiah, they learned that the Messiah had come and he was Jesus, they were immersed and took him as the Lord of their lives. For the Jews, the entire idea of the Messiah was rooted in what they knew in the scriptures. They were able to continue doing much of what they had been doing as Jews, but with Jesus as the fulfilment of the prophets. Continue reading “Christians only”

We are all needed

“For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body – though many – are one body, so too is Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptised into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit. For in fact the body is not a single member, but many” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14 NET).

One of the best ways to think collectively about Christians is to think of a body. Several times in the New Testament this is the picture that the apostle Paul used to describe Christians’ relationships with each other. Although it isn’t specified here, but it is elsewhere, Jesus is the head of the body. The head is the part that gives direction. Continue reading “We are all needed”

The need for unity

“I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony, that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. The glory you gave to me I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one – I in them and you in me – that they may be completely one, so that the world will know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23 NET)

As the time of Jesus’ betrayal approached, there were many things on his mind. Some of these we have recorded in John 13-16. In John 17 we find Jesus in prayer to the Father. In my opinion, this is one of the most revealing and comforting prayers that Jesus offered, as it reveals what was on his heart, and we find that he was concerned about his followers, even those in the far distant future. Continue reading “The need for unity”

Biblical Unity for Dummies (3): Mystical Unity Imposed by Grace or Tools of Maintenance Required?

Will the one body of Christ be always mystically united despite apparent division on earth or are God’s people responsible for employing tools to maintain the body’s unity? This question brings to the forefront our understanding of the nature of Christian unity. On the one hand, to have witnessed acrimonious attitudes can create a desire to breathe the fresh air of acceptance and freedom, such as provided by viewing Christ’s people as possessing an incarnational unity given by grace whereby believers are understood to be united regardless of various forms of seeming division. But if unity is a divine gift … Continue reading Biblical Unity for Dummies (3): Mystical Unity Imposed by Grace or Tools of Maintenance Required?

Biblical Unity for Dummies (2): A Trip to the Zoo

As the school bus slowly pulled into the zoo’s parking lot, all doubt evaporated whether or not the students were excited. Their educational task for the day: to biologically classify the animals according to large family groupings. Although we are aware of the classic distinctions of mammal, reptile, amphibian, and so forth, imagine a young student cataloging the animals by color. The absurd results could include an albino lion being lumped with the swans while the rest of the lions pigeonholed with light colored mice. Absurd? Of course! But what makes it so? Since the color of an animal is … Continue reading Biblical Unity for Dummies (2): A Trip to the Zoo

Biblical Unity for Dummies (1)

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 … Continue reading Biblical Unity for Dummies (1)