united

Do you ever get so passionate about something it literally makes you want to scream when someone doesn’t get it, discounts it, or actually works to undermine it?  There are only a few things that I’m that passionate about, but one of them is seeing churches work together in the name of Christ without any agenda other than to spread the Gospel in their city or country.

This is one of the two reasons I chose to take a job with CharlotteONE (check out our new website www.CharlotteONE.org and watch this video with me in it www.CharlotteONE.org/media). CharlotteONE is a unified movement of local churches coming together as ONE to reach 20s and 30s for Christ and connect them to a local faith community.  If unity is one of the two reasons I work for CharlotteONE, getting people into a church community is the second.  But today I want to talk about unity.

What is it that actually unites anyone?

I think a number of things unite people.  For instance, pizza. I can’t think of a better food that brings more people together. Think about all the parties and celebrations that feature pizza as one of the main events. Others would be sports teams, particular brands (such as Apple consumers), coffeeshops, hair color, gender, economic status, and career choices.  But there is really only one thing that truly unites people in the depths of who they are.

Deeply held beliefs.

What binds Christ followers together is their beliefs about who Jesus is. No matter the denomination, theological method of interpretation, church size, worship style, biblical translation, or preferred preacher, the one thing Christ followers must unite around is their beliefs about Jesus Christ. Not only do Jesus’ followers believe the same thing about who He is, but they must also take on His mission. This is the single greatest mission any person or organization can join. According to 2 Cor. 5, God has given the followers of Jesus Christ the responsibility of being His ambassadors of reconciliation to the world.  And according to John 17:23, the main strategy for accomplishing this mission is the unity of His followers.

I am privileged to see this happen firsthand in my job with CharlotteONE. We have churches from multiple denominations and ecclesiological structures, sizes, worship styles, and preaching strategies. But, all 40 of these churches work together as ONE under Christ’s leadership to help 20s and 30s hear the Gospel and connect to a local community.  And it is working!

There is no room for personal or denominational agendas. If one church or denomination pushes for prominence over the others, unity is sacrificed. If one speaker or worship leader has an agenda outside of the mission given by Jesus in Jn. 17:23 and 2 Cor. 5, not only is unity sacrificed, but the focus has been removed from the mission to a human agenda.

I am also privileged to see this happen in my small group.  We have had at least five different churches represented by members of our group.  While it is understood that our group is under the authority of one particular church, we do not neglect or treat differently any other members who do not happen to go to that church.  We are united by our belief in Jesus Christ and in working with Him to fulfill His mission to reconcile the world to Himself.  We have set aside our personal preferences in worship style, preacher, church size, denomination, and made our common beliefs in Jesus the thing that binds us together in unity. In order to this, we have had to work through which beliefs are absolutely foundational to our faith—the ones we cannot let go and still call ourselves “Christian”—and which ones are secondary issues, such as what kind of music allows us to worship God more fully.

Common unity = Community.  I have written a little bit about why community is central to our identity (www.itsnotmystory.wordpress.com/belong), but we can only be a community through our common unity in Christ.

So, if you are a Christ follower, are you actively pursuing unity with other Christ followers, or are your preferences hindering unity?  We must learn to set aside secondary issues in order to pursue unity, so that the world will know the love of God through Jesus Christ.

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About ross

My life tells a story that is not my own.

Posted on January 23, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. This is so true! If we are to truly be the body of Christ then we need to look past our differences and unite together on what we can all agree are the basics of the Christian faith. We need to live our lives for Christ and boast only in the power of the cross and Jesus who saved us from our sins. I think Clay Crosse’s song “Saving The World” says it best when it comes to this topic:

    So many preachers
    So many churches and denominations
    Got their opinions and their documents
    And statements and beliefs and sometimes
    There’s a miscommunication

    And we complicate the truth
    And convolute the story
    But as far as I recall
    I do believe it all

    Chorus:
    Comes down to a man dying on a cross
    Saving the world
    Rising from the dead
    Doing what He said He would do
    Loving everyone He saw
    When it’s said and done it all
    Comes down to a man dying on a cross
    Saving the world

    It isn’t a secret
    And maybe I’m being simple minded
    But it’s about Jesus and a way, a truth, a life
    That can change a heart and a soul forever
    And we need to be reminded

    It’s the power of the blood
    That brings us to redemption
    We can rise above the fall
    And the reason for it all

    Repeat chorus

    Bridge:
    All the people beneath the steeple
    Are just reaching
    For the truth that can save a helpless soul
    We wrestle with the mystery in the teaching
    But the news is all good
    I think that we should
    Remember one thing.

    Repeat chorus

  2. Ok… I don’t mean to post another song but I couldn’t help but think of this one called Undivided by First Call. It’s an oldie but goodie!!!

    We may worship different ways
    We may praise Him and yet spend all of our days
    Living life divided
    But when we seek Him with open hearts
    He removes the walls we built that keep us apart
    We trust Him to unite us

    Chorus:
    In our hearts, we’re undivided
    Worshipping one Saviour, one Lord
    In our hearts, we’re undivided
    Bound by His spirit forevermoreve
    Undivided

    It doesn’t matter if we agree
    All He asks is that we serve Him faithfully
    And love as He first loved us
    He made us in His image
    And in His eyes, we are all the same
    And though out methods they may be different
    Jesus is the bond that will remain

    http://ilike.myspacecdn.com/play#First+Call:Undivided:1473814:s28104243.13085044.7924.0.2.260%2Cstd_702fcb62dd844043bbb1ecae8c7078cd

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