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For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.
endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace . There is one body, one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Most discussions of unity and oneness in the Body of Christ are met with ambivalence and dis-interest. The vast majority of Christians have resigned themselves to a false notion that unity and oneness is not attainable in this life. The majority has resigned themselves to the idea that there will be no oneness in the Body of Christ in this life and only in heaven will oneness or unity be realized. We have turned our interest to other, more realistic goals like building buildings, increasing attendance, expanding programs, perfecting doctrines, and solving issues.
Just before you take this article and cast it onto the trash heap of irrelevant junk mail, please take a few moments to read again, (or go back and read for the first time), the Word of the Lord at the beginning of this article. There are truths here that I believe are worthy of further consideration. If I am wrong about this then you can get on with your life, but if there is truth here, it would be fair to say that there is a huge portion of Gods will and purpose that is being neglected and ignored by a huge portion of Gods people.
Before we proceed with this discussion of unity and oneness in the Body of Christ some may be asking, Bob, whats the point or purpose of this discussion? There are people all around us that need to hear the Gospel, people who are hurting and in need of a touch from God. Unity in the body is never going to be a reality on earth so lets just leave all that to God and be about the business of winning the lost.
My response to this reasoning is threefold:
First, how can we treat that which scripture teaches us is clearly a part of our Fathers design and delight, namely, that according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself there would be a time referred to as the dispensation of the fullness of times in which the primary activity of our Lord would be to gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth in Him, with such ambiguity? If we are going to talk about earnestly following the will of God, whether or not something is viewed as practical or realistic is irrelevant. We have become so program minded and result oriented in the church, that to ask Gods people to give their lives away to Gods Kingdom dream is never even considered. We must follow what is right because it is right period!
Secondly, the idea that to teach, preach, and reach for the unity and oneness that Jesus prayed for and died for prohibits or distracts the Church from her primary mission is utter absurdity. I dont know about you but if there is to be a NEXT MOVE OF GOD in and through His people, I would like to put my vote in for a move that would include the love of the brethren. It seems like this is what Jesus had in mind in John 13:34-35 when He said, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.Is it possible that in all the ways we have reduced the church to just what happens inside our four walls we have seriously hindered our ability to reach the very ones we say we are so burdened for? Is it possible that if we as Gods people would repent of being cold in our love for His Bride and being so opinionated about things that do not fit into our box, God might once again visit us with New Testament power and presence?
Thirdly, it should be noted that if we are going to be in agreement with that which is according to the good pleasure of His will which He purposed in Himselfwe must dispel the false notion that unity and oneness will only be attainable in Heaven after the rapture or gathering together of the saints. I would like to suggest to you that before there can ever be a Rapture there must first of all be a Capture. What must be captured are the hearts and affections of Gods people for the ones that God loves. I am not talking about the lost, I am talking about the Bride. How can we feign such a love and burden for the lost of the world when we hold such variance, suspicion, and contempt for those who do not hold our particular doctrinal affirmations or views of church government, spiritual gifts, prophecy, end time events or any other of a long list of things that we seem to believe give us permission to bring schisms and division among the people of God. Our prayer must be, Father make us One! Could it be possible that this gathering together that so many Christians are waiting for is already underway? Could it be possible that long before our Lord comes for us, He would desire to come to us, in order to bring about in us the eternal working of His good pleasure that He purposed in Himself; the gathering together of all things in heaven and in earth in Himself?
Some who read these words will possibly come to the conclusion that I am against the church. Nothing could be further from the truth! It is an intense love for the Bride of Christ that compels me to challenge the church of my generation to reach for that which seems, in natural terms, to be unreachable. God is inviting us to reach for something higher than we are presently experiencing and I simply do not believe that the present order of things in the church can take us where God wants us to go. God must be invited into our midst to do something deeper than any of us have ever experienced or known. Regardless of your current spiritual standing you must press your heart deeper into the Fathers heart to love and embrace the things that are dear, precious, eternal and cherished in His eternal design. Unity of the saints, the love of the brethren, and the gathering together in one of all things in Christ in heaven and in the earth- are a part of His Kingdom dream.
So, how do we choose to live in this present dispensation of time that we have been called to live? I offer these as places of beginning for all of Gods people.
1st Gods people, individually, must reach toward this oneness and unity knowing that it is Gods will. You must tear down walls of division, schism, and segregation that exist in your hearts. Do this knowing that this brings pleasure to the heart of Abba Father.
2nd If you are charismatic, conservative, catholic or any other things under the sun, begin to re-examine your attitudes toward those who are not like you. Be willing to honestly face the prejudices of your own heart and ask God to show you how to love all the saints with His love. Remember, in order to truly be the church you must love all whom He loves and receive all whom He receives.
3rd Gods people must reach for this unity that is so alive in the heart of Jesus and we must reach for this unity in the same manner that He did. Pray! Pray! Pray! This unity is not organizational it is organic, spiritual and relational. Pray as Jesus prayed!
4th There must emerge a new kind of servant/leader in the Body of Christ. Pastors, teachers, and leaders who will model, reach, and teach the church back toward her true home. This will be the focus of next months article.
The Abiding Place Journal is a monthly publication dedicated to the vision of calling Believers from every background and tradition to re-examine and re-think their approach to Spiritual Formation and to step beyond the confines of their present experience and understanding to discover a deeper place of communion and fellowship with our Lord and His people. If you would like to partner with us in this ministry we invite you to contact us via e-mail, , by mail at The Abiding Place, P.O. Box 839, Centerville, TX. 75833 or you can call us @ 903-626-5848. To learn more about this ministry visit our website @ .
We look forward to hearing from you!
What Are We Missing?
Every ant knows the formula
of its ant-hill,
Every bee knows the formula
of its beehive.
They know it in their own way,
Not in our way.
Only humankind does not know
Brings knowledge of motion,
But not stillness
Where is the life we have lost
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know; the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve."
Unity - Getting There I " will build no barriers between myself and another believer. Because God accepts him, I accept himwhole-heartedly. Any feelings I might have about being superior to any other believer in any way, I will take to the cross. At the very minimum, as I look at this matter in a practical way, I will accept another brother to the extent he will allow me to accept him. I realize that the practical aspect of this is limited by the limitations he may place on me, but I accept him fully. But my acceptance reaches beyond that. The boundaries of our practical fellowship with one another extend out to that point where he demands I accept his doctrinal distinctions and conform to his vision, his teachings, his mind-set. I stop there, but I stop for only one reason. If I accept all the demands he makes of me in order that I might be fully received by him I am cutting myself off from fellowship with other believers who do not share his views. He has demanded I limit my fellowship with those like-minded with him; my fellowship with him extends only up to the point where his demands would limit my acceptance of other believers. I accept a fundamentalist and a Pentecostal. They may down one another, but I accept both. The only limitation I place is a practical oneasking that they not limit me by insisting I accept one of their views and exclude the other, thereby cutting me off from unhindered fellowship with the other! I will accept any believer into the fellowship of the body of Christ, asking that he accept others in the body of Christ just as he has been accepted by Christ Himself." Church Unity: Believers Becoming One
The Abiding Place Retreat & Conference Center
A Little Peace of Heaven
God has provided a wonderful gift to His people in the form of The Abiding Place Retreat & Conference Center located between Buffalo and Centerville deep in the heart of Texas. In order for the ministry of The Abiding Place to be available to all we have endeavored to keep the cost as low as possible at $95 per person (2 nights lodging, 4 meals, materials). We look forward to being with you in 2004 for retreat at The Abiding Place. If you can make a contribution above the $95 it would be helpful but not required. If you would like to provide scholarship funds so others might be able to come on retreat in 2004 please contact us.