Rethinking Christian Unity – Laying Down Our Differences @frankviola

“Let me rehearse a true story on this score.

Many years ago, I watched two very different groups of Christians meet together to express their oneness in Christ. One group was charismatic; the other wasn’t. After a few joint meetings, the sparks began to fly.

I could rant on about the war-story details, but I’ll spare you. Let me just say that a few months after we merged together, we witnessed a church split. And our strained efforts at preemptive peacemaking and spiritual finessing couldn’t prevent it.

Yet with our garments still smoking, those of us who remained together came to an agreement. An agreement that would change my life. It was this: that all of us lay down our view of spiritual gifts at the foot of the cross. So we did.

Each one of us agreed to drop whatever we thought or experienced about the working of the Holy Spirit. We died to it completely. We gave it up. And we asked the Lord to teach us all over again as little children (Matt. 18:3).

From that point on, our entire focus shifted from what we thought we knew about the Holy Spirit to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. We resolved to strip down to Christ alone, and we set our eyes exclusively on Him. After about a year, something miraculous occurred.

There rose up—out of death, out of the grave in the newness of life—the gifts of the Spirit. But they didn’t look like anything we had seen in the Pentecostal/charismatic movement. And they certainly didn’t look like anything in the Church of Christ tradition. (All things look different in resurrection.)

Those of us who remained and committed to toughing out the storm were “built together.” And I experienced something I had only read about in the Bible—I saw two very diverse groups of Christians love one another through their differences. The result was what Paul declared in 1 Corinthians 1:10.

This experience, while bloody at first, proved to me in living color that the unity of the faith is more than a pious ideal. Healthy church life is nonsectarian, nonelitist, and nonexclusive. It may involve much long-suffering, forbearance, and dying a thousand deaths.

But that’s exactly what Paul said the price would be for preserving the unity of the Spirit:

With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:2–3, NKJV).”

Article taken From – Rethinking Christian Unity (Frank.V)



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