Unity: Our Forgotten Secret

Unity: Our Forgotten Secret January 31, 2020


Dozens of studies, surveys and reports all confirm the fact that the Christian Church in America is in decline, shrinking, dying  out and becoming more internally divided than ever before.

We’re polarized over political tribalism. We’re separated by our doctrines. We’re scattered apart by our differences.

It’s nothing new, but at least there was a time when our leaders would fight for unity and work hard to mend wounds and heal the divide.

Not much anymore.

I spent a few weekends last year speaking at churches in Texas and California hoping to speak to our division and work at restoring unity in the Body of Christ.

Sadly, only a handful of churches were interested in having this sort of dialog.

Now all I can see is a Church that is moving farther and farther apart, without much hope for reconciliation between brothers and sisters in Christ.

If we look at the epistles of Paul in the New Testament we’ll see that divisions were a problem even at the earliest stages of the Christian faith.

Christians in Corinth divided over which Apostle they favored. Christians in Rome were divided over Sabbath observation. Some wanted to eat only vegetables. Others thought it was ok to eat meat. Still others felt it was wrong to eat meat sacrificed to idols.

Here’s what I find fascinating in these examples: Paul never urged these Christians to find unity in agreement over these various disagreements. Not at all. He in fact famously said: “let everyone be convinced in their own mind” over these issues. Yet, Paul urged them to fight for unity as brothers and sisters in Christ.

So, here’s what that means for us: Unity isn’t dependent upon agreement. Unity is all about our oneness in Christ.

See, today, we have accepted the false notion that unity is all about agreement. If we agree then we have unity. But this isn’t the case. Because, as we can see from the examples of the early Church, agreement isn’t really possible.

Why? Because Christians are always going to have different opinions and perspectives. We’re human. This is how we’re wired. Paul doesn’t even make any attempt to get these people to all agree about which view is “True” or which opinion is “Right.” Instead, he reminds them of what unites them in the first place: Christ!

He asks the divided Christians in Corinth: “Was Appollos crucified for you? Did Peter rise from the dead for you?”

And, of course, the answer is “No”, but the question points to a larger reality – Christ is what we all agree on.

So, when Christ is our center and our focus, we have unity.

The minute we place anything else at the center of our focus – boom – instant division.

If we could get back to this simple truth – the idea that our unity is in Christ and that it’s ok to have fellowship with people who aren’t exactly like us – then maybe we can see our way back to a place of unity.

But, based on what I’ve seen so far, we just seem really addicted to being “right” and proving that others are “wrong” and our allegiance and loyalty is more to our particular tribe than to Christ.

Still, I have to hold out hope that one day, maybe someday soon, we just might wake up from our narrow-minded insistence on agreement and shift over to an open-minded embrace of unity based on our shared love of Christ.

Here’s to hope.

**

Are you interested in seeking unity in your Church? If so, I invite you to register for “United We Stand:Healing Our Political Divide” – a 3 week course through BeADisciple.com that I’m teaching online. Classes start Monday, Feb. 10. REGISTER HERE>

Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife have returned to El Paso, TX after 25 years, as part of their next adventure. They hope to start a new house church very soon.

Keith’s new book, “Jesus Undefeated: Condemning the False Doctrine of Eternal Torment” is available now on Amazon.

Want Keith to come speak at your church or in your home town? Send an invitation HERE

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Herm

    Keith, how many ways must it be said? If one born of water is born again of the Spirit, the Spirit of truth is their guide forever, not Jesus. Jesus, the Christ, was led into the wilderness by he who appeared as a dove, the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not lead or carry the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. All of God, including children of Man born of the Spirit, are one in unity bound in all love of each their heart, soul, strength, mind. Christian churches teach and lead their separate flocks according to their different “theory-ology”. Jesus instructs his one church of worship, as high priest, through the Spirit of truth. There will never be unity among any children of Man who have not accepted the Spirit of truth to live with and in them forever. Those who have will be united in the Spirit with Jesus in them and they in Jesus. Their leader and uniter remains the Holy Spirit.
    You are a student of the Christian Bible, read, please, all that Jesus is quoted within to have taught relative to only he who is available today to guide us all into truth as we can bear forever.

    John 16:7
    But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
    John 3:5-7
    Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’
    John 7:37-39
    On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
    By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
    John 14:15-21
    “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
    I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
    Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
    John 14:25-26
    “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
    Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
    John 16:12-15
    “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
    John 20:21-23
    Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
    Acts 4:31
    After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

  • Thanks for this article, Keith. Like many in ministry of one kind or another, I’ve matured in various aspects of faith, with major adjustments of understanding/belief over the decades.

    From years of formal education as well as self-directed study (and writing, which pushes one deeper, as you know), I am freer, more at peace. In learning how detailed and contested finer points of theology are, I’ve come to look more at the broad picture.

    I can be comfortable with, and advocate for focusing on a few foundational things Christians have in common. And that can be around the love of God and God being love.

    I’m part of a forming venture, viewable at http://www.compassionatecitizens.us, which has a major aspect very akin to your project and work. I hope we will get better acquainted and follow each other’s work.

  • olbab

    I am a Methodist, and have long been struck by Wesley’s Quadrilateral, and associated comments, wherein He makes it clear that Methodism should only require adherence to a few essentials, leaving all else aside.
    We have lost that Quadrilateral, and now are at the point of schism as a result. Believe me, insistence on minutia in the Bible’s text was not in that document!

  • Herm

    scripture, tradition, reason, and Christian experience

    Doesn’t that Quadrilateral create a schism between the love of all of mankind and the love of all of God? Relative to any pertinent minutia, the smallest, the most precise, and least trivial in the Christian Bible’s text is summed up in everything, do to others as you would have others do to you, or like that, all scripture hangs on love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and like that, love your neighbor as yourself. No where does the one Instructor, the Messiah, teach his students to unite behind scripture, tradition, reason or Christian (any religious body of mankind) experience.

    He is quoted to have told everyone in his presence, not just his disciples or Jews in the crowd;

    Luke 14:26-27

    “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

    Just after turning to the large crowd, the first sentence out of Christ’s mouth, his sword, is that we should hate the tradition of family focused learning of mankind before we can begin to learn as children of God with one Teacher, one Instructor, and one Father. There is only one Spirit of truth who, with and in each of us, can share with us, first born of water and now of spirit, the bonding unity of love only God can teach. There is only one of God who, when we are fully filled with him, can we boldly share the word of God, apropos to each who hears, without the superficial aid of scripture.

    There is only one available to all of any faith base who is essential to the loving unity of heart, soul, strength, mind of spirit for all of Man and all of God. It is so much simpler to accept to learn from God’s divine guide to all truth, as we each can bear, forever than having to try to learn from mankind’s traditional tools, even the few Quadrilateral essentials of scripture, tradition, reason, and Christian experience. How well has that worked between Methodists, Christians, or any other organization of faith base pursuits? Could it be that mankind’s essential salvation, gifted all of mankind by the Father of God and his only begotten Son of Man, is the one and only Spirit of truth, the one available Teacher for all students of God, the only one available to guide Man after Jesus, the Messiah, left?

  • Herm

    Howard, thank you for sharing the link to the Compassionate Citizens Foundation. By the home page I sense a lot of diverse united heart, soul, strength, mind of spirit moving in a direction that makes me desire to actually see 10,000+ empowered #CompassionateCommunities in the US by 2028, before I die from any influence in this world.

    A couple of serious questioning observations:

    * I am intrigued that such a divine movement is being seeded in a little known county (outside of the Chicago metropolitan area) within which all roads lead to Joliet, yet no way could such a powerful “forming venture” not be felt and influential in Gary, Indiana and their “World Class” International Gary/Chicago Airport, or, even busier, Chicago, Illinois and their most utilized Chicago O’hare International Airport, a premier worldwide hub of travel. What possibly could have inspired so many to unite behind such an effort to invoke formula of economic, social, religious and political relational influence founded on one central all time (chronicled in all religions of compassion and empathy throughout the history of mankind) principle, “in everything, do to others as we would have others do to us”, located in such a worldwide accessible community?

    * Why now, when I hurt most for doing too little in my 75 years to stave off religious and political governing of mankind based on fear, manipulation, and intimidation, does a clear, assisted vision by my graced diverse education (physical, social and spiritual) and applied experience, spirit of loving community begin to grow, that I know mankind would flourish from and, yet, at a time when I physically, mentally and spiritually might assist with the least resources available to me? Possibly, I should just be happy to witness such a potential of growth of love building within Man without being selfishly much, if any, of a contributor.

    * You were very diplomatic in soliciting Keith’s support from right where he is at in his journey, by “focusing on a few foundational things Christians have in common”. As having once been an educated and carded Christian official, I must painfully say that not all, diplomatically speaking, professing Christian bodies see to accept the spirit surrounding “the love of God and God being love”. I know once educated and carded officials from other religions who have painfully shared the same sentiment with me, relative to their once faith based community. We agree today that to know God (by any name) as a being of welcomed love, not separated form mankind by fear, is a mutually shared relationship of empathy, respect, compassion, support and forgiveness between each of God as spirit and each of mankind as physical.

    * After skimming through the home page for the Compassionate Citizens Foundation website, as I understand beginning a mankind relationship focused on self, then family, then neighbor, then community, then nation, then world, and then beyond I wonder why does this foundation stop at the United States of America?

    Love you, Howard, and thank you for hope!

  • Herm

    Hold on, this is waiting to be approved by keithgiles.
    Keith, is the respectful mention of any other faith based religion, not Christian, automatically not suitable for any discussion within this blog? Is that your example of unity through love, as you understand taught by Jesus in the Gospels, for all of mankind according to the will of our Father of God?

  • Nimblewill

    Christ in us is the hope of Glory? Could we ever conceive of the idea that Christ is doing what Christ does in spite of us? That He is building His church and ensuring his purpose through a body that is scattered.

  • Dr Paul

    Hi Keith, I am as concerned as you about the disunity among Christians. The beauty of “Pure Christianity” , as I like to call it, is not being emphasized. I would hope that more of us, like you, could unite to stress what’s missing. For some years now my website http://www.instituteformerechritianity.org has been attempting to address this disunity. What can we do to present a united front?

  • Dr Paul

    Keith, I find the same true in my work through http://www.instituteformerechristianity.org My message has been doctrine that we don’t fully understand with our simple material minds is not the big issue. Our actions count more. There has got to be a way that many of us who are saying the same thing can unite. I keep thinking there must be something we can all do together to get the point across-if we keep fighting one and other over miniscule details and forgetting to show true love we’re going backward.