Unity of the Church Topical Study

<p><font color="#0077c8"><span style="font-size: 28px;"><b><span class="heading-lg">Unity of the Church in Scripture</span></b></span></font></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Psalm%2095%3A1-2">Psalm 95:1-2</a>, songs of praise</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Psalm%20133%3A1">Psalm 133:1</a>, &quot;how very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity.&quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/John%2017%3A20-21">John 17:20-21</a>, so that the world might believe</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Acts%204%3A32">Acts 4:32</a>, everything was held in common</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Acts%2010%3A34-35">Acts 10:34-35</a>, God shows no partiality, anyone who fears him and does right is acceptable to him</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Acts%2015%3A8-9">Acts 15:8-9</a>, no distinction between us and them</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Romans%2012%3A4-5">Romans 12:4-5</a>, many members, one body</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Romans%2012%3A15">Romans 12:15</a>, a species of empathy,&nbsp;compassion is emotional distress over the perceived plight of others, classically accompanied by a desire to alleviate it. In biblical terms, compassion is &quot;weeping with those who weep&quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Galatians%203%3A27-28">Galatians 3:27-28</a>, one in Christ Jesus</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Ephesians%202%3A14">Ephesians 2:14</a>, Christ is our peace and has broken down the dividing wall</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Ephesians%204%3A3-6">Ephesians 4:3-6</a>, bond of peace</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/1%20Corinthians%2012%3A12-13">1 Corinthians 12:12-13</a>, all baptized into one body</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/1%20John%204%3A11-12">1 John 4:11-12</a>, love one another</span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Reflections about the Unity of the Church</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, &quot;The L<span class="small-caps">ord</span>, the L<span class="small-caps">ord</span>, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness . . .</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them . . .</span></p><p><span class="body-copy"><strong><span class="heading-sm">The Belhar Confession</span></strong></span></p><p><span class="body-copy">The Belhar Confession is a document wri<span class="body-copy">tten in 1986 by the Uniting Reformed Church in South Africa. This confession recognizes that the church in South Africa, while agreeing to orthodox formulations of doctrine, also compromised their witness in a devastating way by igniting and fueling apartheid. Coming from deep conviction out of lived experience, this document provides profound insight into the nature of unity in the church, defining unity as &quot;both a gift and an obligation for the church of Jesus Christ; that through the working of God&#39;s Spirit it is a binding force, yet simultaneously a reality which must be earnestly pursued and </span>sought: one which the people of God must continually be built up to attain.&quot;</span></p><p><span class="body-copy"><span class="heading-sm"><strong>Unity as Gift</strong></span></span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Toward this theme, a pr<span class="body-copy">eacher will focus primarily on the work of the Holy Spirit in guaranteeing the unity of the church. Stories from the book of Acts that focus on the Holy Spirit showing up in the &quot;wrong kind&quot; of people challenge the church to remember that people do not control who&#39;s in and who&#39;s out in the church. You may also tie a strong connection to the first part of worship &mdash; that God gathers us for worshi</span>p. We do not gather ourselves, therefore we do not gather according to our own criteria.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy"><span class="heading-sm"><strong>Unity as Obligation</strong></span></span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Unity requires so<span class="body-copy">mething of us: humility, patience, and a willingness to &quot;bear with one another in love.&quot; &quot;Our World Belongs to God,&quot; the contemporary testimony of the Christian Reformed Church, says this: &quot;The church is a gathering of forgiven sinners called to be holy. Saved by the patient grace of God, we deal patiently with others and together confess our need for grace and forgiveness. Restored in Christ&#39;s presence, shaped by his life, this new community lives out the ongoing story of God&#39;s reconciling love, announces the new creation, and works for a world of justice and peace.&quot; Unity is more than kindness and respect due to all people as image-bearers of God. Unity is a unique quality of relationship required of and bequeathed to all people who claim Jesus Christ as L<span class="small-caps">ord</span>.</span></span></p><p><span class="body-copy"><span class="heading-sm"><strong>Unity Does Not Abolish Indifference</strong></span></span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Referring <span class="body-copy">to the story of Pentecost in Acts 2, we do well to remember that the people did not all begin speaking the same language. Rather, they were able to hear and understand one another across the barrier or language. In order for the pursuit of unity not to become a violence against others, it cannot be an effort to make others more like us. In this regard, New Testament epistle texts about the variety of gifts is essential reading. There are many differences &mdash; and even this is what God intends &mdash; but there is unity in the midst of difference. To confess Jesus as L<span class="small-caps">ord</span> is our only required commonality and, by the Spir</span>it&#39;s power, it is enough to conquer prejudice without abolishing difference.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy"><strong><span class="heading-sm">Unity Is Fundamentally Christo-centric</span></strong></span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Dietri<span class="body-copy">ch Bonhoeffer&#39;s classic text Life Together says this: &quot;Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us. . . . I have community with others and I shall continue to have it only through Jesus Christ. The more genuine and the deeper our community becomes, the more will everything else between us recede, the more clearly and purely will Jesus Christ and his work become the one and only thing that is vital between us. We have one another only through Christ, but through Christ we do have one another, wholly, for eternity.&quot; <span class="body-copy-sm">(Dietrich Bonhoeffer,&nbsp;<em>Life Together</em>,&nbsp;Harper &amp; Row Publishers, 1954.)</span></span></span></p>