Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Unity of the Churches - God’s WillEzekiel 37:15-23
“I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.” v. 22:
We live in a sadly divided country that needs to learn to be reconciled with each other, and so we need the message in our Bible lesson today as much as ever. In the enacted oracle, kind of a parable, in Ezekiel 37:15-23, is the message which we as a Church are entrusted with. The God we trust, the God that Jesus came to reveal and was incarnate in Him, is the God who brings new life, and heals our wounds, hurts, and divisions with the hand of the Almighty. We must not succumb to the temptation that is rife within our time and place to proclaim a narrow kind of judgmental spirit that causes more wounds, and exults in divisions in the name of ecumenicism. The Church is the body of Christ - a group of people unified (Ephesians 4:1-3)under Christ, who represent and reflect Him to the world (1 Corinthians 12:12-17).
The unity of the Church refers to the union of the people of God, in all their various distinctness and expressions, bound to God and to one another by the Gospel. The unity of the Church is to be a reflection of the unity of the one God upon which the Church is built. A biblical theology of unity reveals a richer and deeper understanding of unity than mere uniformity, but it also holds out the goal of visible unity towards which Christians aspire.
It is the covenantal relationship between the one God and His people that gives rise to the claim that the Church is to be one. Its unity is not a function of its cultural location, the native language it speaks or the kinds of food it enjoys. But its unity consists in the monogamous relationship it bears universally to the one true living God. I would like to highlight a couple of points on the unity of the churches:
1. Unity in Diversity:
The fact that the Church speaks different languages, sings different kinds of music, and engage in different cultural habits tells us that the unity of the Church is never intended to be uniformity. The Gospel also calls the Church to celebrate diversity. Two of the more significant Biblical pas-sages in this regard are Ephesians chapter 4 and 1 Corinthians chapter 12. Ephesians chapter 4 makes the case that God has called individuals to different offices in the Church, and understanding the diverse role of those who occupy those offices is crucial to understanding the means by which the Church will flourish and retain its unity. 1 Corinthians chapter 12 calls attention to the diverse gifts represented by people in the Church and that no one may say to another, “I do not need you.” Both of these passages give us the beginning of a richer and more robust “unity-in-diversity” understanding of the Church. United by the Gospel, and living out this Gospel across many cultures, many languages, and many differently gifted individuals is what God intends.
2. The Unity of a Biblical Theological Vision:
We must then think not in terms of the cultural location nor of the cultural shapes of the Church as key to its unity, but rather to an animating theological vision which sees unity in and through the Scripture. As I said earlier, the unity of the Church is rooted in the deep conviction that God’s people in spite of all their differences are united to Him by faith in Jesus Christ. The story of the Church is the amazing story of God’s redeeming work culminating in Jesus. This “common history” means that diverse branches of the Church’s diverse family tree all are bound to an identical spiritual genealogy. The story of creation, the fall, redemption, and consummation is the common story for every genuine church. The story of Abraham, Moses, and David is the common story of the Church no matter which language it speaks or which age it lives in. The Church across the ages and across the globe is bound together by the same Gospel as interpreted and proclaimed by the Apostles. This Apostolic foundation entails that Scripture is the fundamental constitution of the Church.
Almighty Lord, bless our Church, we humbly ask of Thee, that we may walk together in perfect unity. Amen.
Thought for the day
“When love and kindness rule our lives, and we are seen as one, the fragrance of our unity has no comparison” - Sper
Orlando MTC, Florida