Political tensions, racial disharmony, and conflicting views on how to address matters of social justice. A quick glance would seem to suggest that there is more that divides Christians than that which unites us. For this reason I issue a call to remember. A call to remember: the basis, the evidence and the result of our Christian unity.
The basis of our unity
Several factors separated the Jew and Gentile in the first century. The Jews alone were God’s chosen people and the beneficiaries of the covenant promises of God. Although both Jew and Gentile were spiritually dead upon birth (Ephesians 2:1), the latter group were deceased, hopeless and Godless (Ephesians 2:11-12).
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.Ephesians 2:13
Through the shedding of the blood of Christ, an alien people were brought near to God. Such is the case for us. By placing our faith in the person and work of Christ we have a relationship with God. Christ Jesus, who is our peace, has given us peace with God and peace with one another.
The law was a spiritual obstacle for both people groups (Ephesians 2:15). In the Jewish temple stood physical barriers as a wall separated the Jews and Gentiles in worship. Nonetheless, the cross of Christ displaces segregation with union (Ephesians 2:14). Divisive barriers such as socio-economic status, political affiliation, ethnicity etc. are broken own by God’s [saving] grace. Irrespective of our diverse backgrounds, our fellowship with God brings us into communion with each other with the Gospel being the basis of our unity.
And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,Ephesians 2:17-19
The evidence of our unity
What is the hallmark of the church which attests to its unity? Love.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:34-35
The sacrificial, selfless love Christ showed His disciples in the upper room and most gloriously at Calvary is to exist among His followers. Love is our banner, evidencing the power of the gospel, enthralling the world and drawing others to our Lord. Remembering the basis and evidence of our unity ought to guard against us allowing approaches toward politics and social justice from severing the bond which ties us together. Our Christian witness is at stake.
The result of our unity
Our faith shapes our worldview. By this I mean that politics, ethics and matters of race are viewed through the lens of our Christianity. We reach our conclusions and beliefs through the guidance of God’s Word. The question then arises as to how we approach those issues on which Scripture does not explicitly touch on. In these instances, we are to use what is clear on related matters to inform our convictions on that which is less clear.
Inevitably, there will be disagreement and diversity of thought. Despite this, we must pursue truth, desiring to be faithful to Christ as we do so, but not neglecting the basis of our unity (the Gospel) and at the expense of love.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.Ephesians 4:4-6
This is the church. Differences in thought and practice abide, but at our core we are one. Our oneness is demonstrated by how we love one another. The world is watching and more importantly, God is watching.