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Thursday

Unity

Our small group is currently working our way through the book of Philippians on Tuesday nights. One of Paul's pleas to His brothers and sisters at Philippi is for unity. You see this in Philippians 1:27:

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,

The same ideas reappears in chapter 2 verse 2:

complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

No one could credibly argue that, as believers, we should not strive to unified with one another. Scripture is clear that we should do all we can to be of the same mind, the same, spirit, the same purpose as our fellow followers of Christ. What I find unsettling is how this idea of unity seems to play out in practice in most churches I have been a part of.

For some reason, unity seems to be the highest principle when it comes to matters of relative unimportance and tolerance is clung to when the conversations turn to essential matters of our faith.  Let me try to explain....

People rally around matters such as drinking alcohol, dancing, worship styles, etc.  If you have ever mentioned that glass of wine you had with dinner around someone who is against drinking any alcohol at all then you have probably experienced some of what I am talking about.  The same type of conversation often occurs when the idea of "contemporary worship" comes up in the company of traditional piano and organ church goers.

Obviously those are just two examples and not everyone who takes a stand on either side of those issues is so rigid.  But too many people are.  Turn the conversation to matters of doctrine, however, and often times the watchwords become tolerance and peace.  That is if the entire matter of even taking a stand on a particular doctrine is not dismissed as just being contentious.  It is as if we would rather risk offending a brother over alcohol or music than over holiness or preaching the whole Gospel to unbelievers.

Please don't misunderstand what I am trying to say here.  I long for the day when God's church is unified and striving together for the advancement of His kingdom here on earth.  It breaks my heart to see the petty squabbles and quarrels that rob us of so much potential effectiveness.  However, scripture never tells us to seek unity above truth, or peace above the gospel.  Unity is only desirable when it is a unity of mind, spirit,and purpose that has been brought about by the Holy Spirit and that is centered around the gospel and cross of Jesus Christ.  If we are going to draw lines in the sand then lets draw them over matters of eternal importance.  Lets draw them where scripture tells us to draw them.

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JOHN DOE
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