Moving Closer to Christ and to One Another
In an article titled "Is Christ Divided?" from this month's Christianity Today, Executive Editor Timothy George writes about division within the Christian church: . . .
Sometimes church division is a tragic necessity, and the call to Christian unity does not mean that we must blend all believers into a single homogenous unit. But neither does it allow us to relax and accept the status quo as God's perfect will. Evangelicals believe in the spiritual oneness of all true Christians—what Augustine of Hippo called the invisible church—but does this mean that we should have no concern for visible church unity?
Our visible disunity causes many unbelievers to stumble. The problem is not only division, but divisiveness, within congregations as well as between (and within) denominations. To jar the Corinthians—a divided church if ever there was one—out of complacency, Paul asked three pointed questions in 1 Corinthians 1:13, questions we need to reconsider today.
Those three questions were: "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?"
Although George uses these thought-provoking questions posed by Paul to demonstrate how we can become more unified through Jesus Christ—who is not divided, who was crucified for us and in whom we've been baptized—he warns, "All this is not to suggest that we should aspire to unity for unity's sake, nor to argue that there are no legitimate divisions in the church. In fact, we are wise to avoid three common mistakes.
". . . The way to true Christian unity cannot be purchased at the expense of moral purity . . . theological integrity . . . [or] genuine diversity."
George concludes, "As we come closer to Jesus Christ, Christ the Center (as Bonhoeffer called him), we will grow closer to one another. How we should proceed toward unity is a matter of healthy debate. That we should continue to move closer to one another is not."
George's article, which I encourage you to read in its entirety by clicking on this link, was adapted from The Mark of Jesus: Loving in a Way the World Can See (Moody Publishers, 2005), which he co-wrote with John Woodbridge.