If someone is good enough for God’s dwelling Spirit, then who am I say I’m too good, too right, or too “just” to have fellowship?
How could I ever think I have higher standards than God?
~ Ed Cyzewski, Divided We Unite
I’ve been on both sides of the divide.
• I didn’t disfellowship a brother whom others had labeled a heretic.
• And I tried to convert a sister who probably was already saved.
Jesus values unity. Enough that he prayed for it in his final hours before heading to the cross (John 17:23).
But what does unity mean?
It does NOT mean total agreement in theology.
It does NOT mean being more loyal to your church than you are to your God.
It does NOT mean proving you have the right answers instead of the right Savior.
Ed Cyzewski points that out in his new eBook, Divided We Unite. He also points out that unity DOES mean sharing a common center—Jesus Christ.
Christian unity does not come from our heads. Unity isn’t a list of bullet points. Unity comes from the life of God’s Spirit within us.
Our fights and divisions can’t undo the presence of God among his people.
If you and I are both in Christ, we already are united. Even if we don’t see it. Or act like it.
But He wants us to. It’s an important part of our witness to the world—of His divinity and of His love.
Living in unity does not rest on whether we can see enough of our own beliefs in one another but whether we can see enough of God's Spirit among the members of our Christian family.
Chapter 8 in Ed’s book is “The Most Important Chapter.” You’re reminded first of The Big Idea:
Christians are more united and divided than we often think. We cannot undo the unity that comes through God's Spirit, but we can let our divisions interfere with the work God's Spirit wants to do among us.
And then you’re given several Next Step Ideas.
- Pray for enemies and challenging people
- Find the best representatives for your opponents
- Share a meal with those from different perspectives
- Learn to play with ideas
- Research one church father
- Minister with different Christians
- Learn stories
- Practice waiting
- Keep serious disagreements private
- When you are upset, ask yourself: “Why?”
What if we each chose at least one idea to follow through on this week? Would the world see more unity among believers? Would the Father’s name be honored more from seeing more of our love?
Just a few months ago I seized an opportunity to apologize to the Christian sister I had previously condemned to hell (at least in my mind) when we were younger because of our different denominations. She smiled. All had been forgiven long ago.
She knew we were already united, even way back then. It just took me longer to see it.
Now that I do, I’m humbled—and strengthened—by our unity.
Unity is an intentional and sometimes costly practice that demands all of the cross carrying and dying to ourselves that we can handle. We don’t create unity on our own. That’s God’s work.
However, we can remove the obstacles we set up and give grace to those in God’s family who hold to different beliefs. Our divisions are real, but God’s unifying Spirit shows us that the divides between us are not as wide as we imagine.
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Which of the 10 suggestions might you try this week?