“Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose,” (Phil. 2:2).
I am all too aware that as a busy pastor (with a different full time job) I find myself mixing with people that are generally like-minded. I desire to fellowship with pastors and leaders from other denominations but of course, as soon as I do I get branded an ecumenical! So I’m wondering: what are the “must be’s” for unity? What do we need to agree on if unity is to take place?
First and foremost, it is the saving work of Christ – that is the thing that unites us in the first place so we have to agree about that. Ok, but what does that mean? I mean, someone can agree that Christ saves but also maintains that works are vital in the salvation process. I would have to strongly disagree. The Bible is clear that Christ alone is the one that saves and that works are an evidence of salvation.
Secondarily, it is the sole sufficiency of the Bible. Why? becuase the Bible is the body of documents that tell us the essentials of the faith that we claim to hold and straying from these essentials means we are not part of the Body of Christ.
Alright – how does that look in practise? This is where opinion should be divided from biblical theology. This is how denominations rise and fall. How sad it is that opinion has divided the church. This is something that we should repent of. We are united if we are saved by the blood of Christ alone and stand of the sufficiency of Scripture alone. AND THAT’S IT! It doesn’t matter whether I am calvinist or arminiam, cessationist of charismatic!
There are some who are reading at say “Yeah but …”. STOP IT! there are no “yeah buts …” around the throne of God! All of us will have our theologies corrected when we stand before the throne of God. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:4)
In practise then this starts with humble hearts – ready to be corrected by the Holy Spirit. It also involves loving hearts to accept those that believe in non-essential doctrines that I disagree with – end times issues for example. It also involves a visionaries heart to understand that God has given me a unique part part to play in his body and that just because we hold different opinions outside of the fundamentals that doesn’t mean my ministry is less of more valid.
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts: