What is “real” unity?

What is Biblical unity? First, let me address what it’s not. It is not a Nazi mentality of conformity. It’s not all dressing the same. Believing the same in all things. Speaking the same. Or all having the same hairstyle. Biblical unity is not outward conformity. It is not cookie cutter appearance. That borders a cult!

In his book, “Transforming Grace,” Jerry Bridges put it well. “Despite God’s call to be free and His earnest admonition to resist all efforts to curtail it, there is very little emphasis in Christian circles today on the importance of Christian freedom. Just the opposite seems to be true. Instead of promoting freedom, we stress our rules of conformity. Instead of preaching living by grace, we preach living by performance. Instead of encouraging new believers to be conformed to Christ, we subtly insist that they be conformed to our particular style of Christian culture. We don’t intend to do this and would earnestly deny we are. Yet that’s “the bottom line” effect of our emphasis in Christian circles today.

….We are much more concerned about someone abusing his freedom than we are about his guarding it. We are more afraid of indulging the sinful nature than we are of falling into legalism. Yet legalism does indulge the sinful nature because it fosters self-righteousness and religious pride. It also diverts us from the real issues of the Christian life by focusing on external and sometimes trivial rules.

What if fellow church members disagree with my opinion or understanding of a particular Scripture? What if they like different types of music? What if they dress differently? What if they are not raising their children just like we are raising ours? So what! What if they do not share my same personal convictions or preferences? What if they leave one local church and join another? Are they now shunned? Are they outcasts? Do you talk about them behind their back, judge them, or accuse them of falling away from holiness because they are not just as you are? You’re a coward and self-righteous! When you see them do you stare them down with condemning disapproval? Or as a hypocrite do you put on a fake smile and spew the lie, “I love you brother” while in your heart you’re nodding with self-righteous disapproval? If any of these carnal, childish, or ignorant thoughts have crossed your mind you do not understand real Christian unity. In Christ we must allow fellow Christians to be different without letting our personal bias twist the Holy Scriptures into supporting our personal opinion.

Our real unity revolves around Jesus Christ. He is the one constant. People are different. Let them be. The one absolute that yokes us together as one is Christ. How He died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day. In the midst of unique and personal differences we are one in Christ. May the prayer of Jesus be our creed. John 17:20-21 says, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”

Sin is almost the only thing we have in common with everyone else, and so at the feet of Jesus where sin is cleansed is the only place where we can be one. Real oneness conjures up for us the picture of two or more sinners together at Calvary.” –Roy Hession

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