John 17:20-23 – “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
In the final moments of His life before heading to death on the cross, Jesus Christ stops to pray His longest prayer. Nearing the end of His prayer, Jesus prays that Christians would have a unity as “one” based in love. What does this not mean? What does this mean?
What unity is not:
1. Unity is not uniformity. Like any family, Christians come in all shapes and size, ages and races, incomes and styles. It is a cult, and not the church, that demands uniformity outwardly. It is the church that invites unity inwardly through love and relationship, much like any healthy family.
2.Unity is relational, not organizational. Christians belong to a variety of ministries, organizations, churches, networks, denominations etc. There is no organization big enough to organize all that the Holy Spirit is doing in and through the people of God around the earth. Only God’s Kingdom, not any human organization, is sufficient to bring all that God is doing together. It is under the shared banner of the Kingdom of God that all Christian organizations relationally work together through friendship and partnership.
3.Unity is not around methods. The Bible is filled with clear principles for which God’s people, according to conscience and culture, form a variety of methods. For example, the Bible tells God’s people to gather together but does not tell us what a church service should look like. The Bible tells parents to raise their children in the Lord, but does not prescribe a certain form of education. And, the Bible says that we should sing to the Lord but does not demand any musical style, song selection, or instrumentation. Our unity is around the principles while leaving diversity for various methods. Sadly, division does happen when Christians confuse principles and methods as if their method was the only or even best way of being faithful to God’s principles.
How would you define Christian unity?