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Correspondence with a dear brother in the faith regarding unity
This is a record of the correspondence, with corrections in things like spelling errors, which I have had with a dear brother in the faith who responded to my article on unity. He has kindly given me the permission to reproduce our exchange here. As usual, I would not reveal his name though those who know us may be able to guess.
1a) Initial fedback
Took a quick read of the article on unity as it is an area that I am interested in...
My concept of unity has been evolving over time and I think there's no issue that unity is something of great importance... it was on the heart of Jesus in his final day on earth and that's one powerful and passionate prayer. Also, the 1 Cor 12 analogy of the body indirectly underlines its importance too.
I wonder however, whether it has been fulfilled in this day and age.
I agree that we should intepret - and re-intepret if required - our experiences in the light of scripture. however, I don't know if there are any scriptures that suggests that we have reached unity. Heb 5:7 says Jesus was heard... but whether the answer was affirmative and immediate, im not sure.
So... i think we have yet to reach unity - whatever definition that might take - both in light of scripture and our experiences today.
Finally, on the 'unity to be worked for' part, i have not thought extensively about it, except that our focus should be on christ, not unity per se. However, I did come across a verse that you might want to address:
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Eph 4:3
As it clearly suggests working towards unity :) 'Through the bond of peace' might be worth a look too :)
Of course, in what I've shared above, I could be wrong - but let us grow and learn together, for our own growth and for the building of His church as well :)
1b) Reply by me
thanks for the feedback. I would just like to clarify my position further.
Basically, what I was thinking of when writing the latter part of the article is against the formation of a unity on a basis other than that of Christ. In my opinion, the root problem of the ecumenical movement's emphasis on unity is their interpretation of the unity of Christ as being unfulfiled, and thus they need to help fulfil the Lord's prayer.
Regarding the usage of Heb. 5:7, I agree with you that the passage did not explicitly say that Jesus' prayer was answered, just heard. However, I do maintained that it can be deduced from Scripture that Jesus' prayer is answered. Scripture says that Jesus has come to do the will of the Father (Jn. 6:38, Heb. 10:7-9) and God's will and purposes will stand (Is. 46:10). Jesus' prayer follows His Father's will (Mt. 6:10) and thus whatever he pray will be according to the will of God. Since God's will and purposes will stand, Jesus' prayer will be answered. And thus it is answered in Christ.
I understand where you are coming from in Eph. 4:3, and I will agree whole-heartedly. However, the question is asked how are we to do this. According to the text of Scripture, unity is answered and acheived in Christ, thus to achieve into greater unity, we should grow in Christ and find the unity within Him. When attacking the view that unity must be worked for, I am not saying that we are not to strive for unity per se, but we are to strive for unity only in Christ, for there is where true unity lies. Also, since it is in Christ, and not in ourselves or even the Church, we do not make it our primary objective but put Christ as our primary objective, knowing well that as we grow in Christ, we grow closer to each other.
Hope this helps. =) Can I put our exchange on my webpage, if you don't mind? Thanks.
2a) Reply to me
Yes I understand a bit better now - and yes I agree about what you say about unity rather than in Christ. Unity should almost be a 'by product' of being together in Christ.
After all, it is the same spirit that indwells in us :) Also, I totally agree that unity cannot be compromised for truth.. no issue there.
About the answered prayer thing, will remain a bit reserved for the moment about it. Will prayerfully think it thru... I find it hard to swallow that Jesus could pray something in line with the will of God and not have it answered, but I likewise find it difficult to believe that what we see today is the fulfilment of that prayer. Perhaps it could be a continuous process yet to reach fulfilment akin to sanctification? *grin* Will keep it in mind next time I read on the subject.
And sure, you can put this online if you want.
2b) Reply from me
thanks for allowing me to post this. I'm sure it would be edifying to those who see our exchange. =). I was thinking, maybe if we could think of unity as something which Christ has obtained for us and we grow into this inheritence through abiding in Him and His Word?
I think one thing which we must keep in mind is the reality of the visible and invisible church. The visible church consists of those who gather together to worship God and profess Christ. The invisible Church consists of the elect who are TRUE Christians. The former may comprise those who obey Christ with their lips only (Mt. 7:21-23) and those who apostasize (1 John 2:19). Also, some of these people may be wolves sent into the church with the intention of destroying the faith of Christians - drawing away disciples after themselves (Acts 20:29-30). Thus, when we talk about unity, we must keep this into account. Therefore, the problem is in ensuring how the visible church of Jesus Christ could be conformed as close as possible to that of the invisible Church.
Hope this helps.
[Link article: True unity in the Body of Christ]