Monday, March 24, 2008

Unity of the Spirit

This week we were discussing unity in the Spirit during Sunday School. We were looking at the passage 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.
We are one body, united in Christ. That is not just our local congregation, but the church as a whole- those who by faith have believed in Jesus Christ and follow after Him daily. None of us are superior to any other part of the body. That is part of what 1 Corinthians 12 was talking about. But my thoughts went also in another direction.

We do need to be one in Spirit, not at the expense of Truth. I went on a mission trip a few years ago to Chicago and we were working with a church that was quite different. The groups that we worked with that week were of different denominations and they were proud that they had unity, all under the banner of unity through love. I think that is wonderful, but the Truth was not upheld. There was doctrine and other issues that were ignored so they could get along in love. I do not feel like that is honoring the Lord or His Word. It seems like we go to one extreme or the other. We are united under love- and leave out Truth, or we are unified under Truth and seem to not have love. So what should the balance be? God’s Word is clear that we should know the truth. In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul addresses the issue of unity and the truth.

Ephesians 4:1-6 “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

This teaches us that we are to be humble, gentle, patient and bearing with others in love. But he goes on to talk about what unites us. We are to be united under one Spirit, one body. So, how are we to live in one Spirit? How do we know what the truth is?

I think that we often are so caught up in our own experience and “this is what I have always thought and been taught” that we lose the truth, we lose unity. I am not saying that everything we believe is wrong, nor am I saying that we need to throw out all we believe and start over. What I am saying is that we are to uphold the Truth of what God’s Word says. When we discuss things with others, or read something new we need to seek what God’s Word says about this issue-being patient and gentle- bearing with them in love. But what often happens is we enter into heated discussions that are not unifying, nor do they solve anything.

Paul goes on in Ephesians to talk more about the truth and unity. In Ephesians 4: 14-16 it says “ …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. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

There are lots of false doctrine and deceitful schemes out there that would cause us to be tossed about. So we need to be in God’s Word all the more to distinguish what is the Truth. How do you know that what other denominations or other religions believe is wrong or right? We should measure them all by what the Word says. But how willing are we to do this? Isn’t it easier just to condemn things that are different than what we think? Isn’t it easier to pass judgment rather than seek out what is the truth for ourselves? But God has called us to something so much more. If we are to be united then we need to know the Truth of what God’s Word says and tell others.

I often find myself critically looking and listening to everything… from song lyrics, to sermons, or even just in reading other people’s blogs. I think that is what we are to do. Our doctrine and what we believe comes out in everything we say and do. So we need to make sure that what we think, say, and live out is the truth. In doing so, in love, I think that will bring about unity of the Spirit. There are things that are not essential to understanding the Gospel and life that we can bear with others in love in order to keep unity. I am not planning on going into those now.

This is not an in-depth study nor is it my complete thoughts. I just wanted to see what others think about this. So anyone up for a discussion? in love? with the Truth??

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