Unity. The new testament talks about it quite a bit, yet it is the thing most sorely lacking in modern 'churchianity'. In fact, the more people strive to create it, the more elusive it becomes...
This is absurd, morbidly humorous even, but eventually it becomes an observation of the pathetic and pitiful. Why? Because the strivings of a fallen race and culture trying to produce something beyond and above itself is as humorous as someone donning a red cape and telling you they can fly - and horrifying as they jump off the roof to prove it. Pathetic and pitiful so far that as they lay there on the ground broken and in the throws of death, they proclaim to you through fits of blood gurgling coughs, "Look - I'm flying!". Yeah, I believe you...
A red herring? A carrot on the end of A stick being waggled by a corrupt and vicious god who delights in the futility of man?
We have spent roughly 2,000 years as self proclaimed followers of Jesus with the bulk of our testimony proving that we are incapable of such a thing. Yet - we find in the new testament:
"Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment."
- 1st Corinthians 1:10 (you may just glean a little insight reading the whole chapter)
**I am about to speak of things of which I have yet to understand, for I know little more than swords, breastplates and helmets.**
You have, say, 100 people who need to get to a specific destination.
You provide a box full of GPS' that they may take as they get into their vehicles. These GPS' are brand new, remotely updated, speak clearly and plainly, and have the destination firmly ingrained/formatted/downloaded in the system.
So - on their way to their vehicles, the drivers stop by the box of available GPS' for their journey to this destination. Some of these drivers pause to think for a moment.
One driver says, "I don't need one of these! I have a map book in the glovebox that I've used since 1971. I'll just use that."
Another: "I have a GPS from just a couple years ago. I found Grandma's house using it, so why upgrade?"
A couple drivers even have such a keen sense of direction that they scoff at those who even need things such as map books and GPS'. They just jump in the car and hit the gas.
And they're off, Ladies and Gentlemen! A little while later, we get an update on our travelers:
The one with the mapbook is pretty upset: Not only does the map clearly show a road, but they remember having traveled it even, years ago. Now - they sit dejected fully stopped in front of a yellow and black striped fence. How can the map be wrong - the little road is printed in it right there!
The one with the old GPS is traveling still, albeit with quite a bit of difficulty. There are road crews everywhere; the pavement has all been ripped up, bulldozers are pushing dirt everywhere, and the people with those red and yellow flags were flailing all over the place way back there when the traveler went zipping past them all. Now miles forward it hardly resembles a road anymore - just rocky unkempt turf that is getting harder and harder to 4x4 over. Oh well, at least they're still moving, right?
Oh, and those guys with the keen sense of direction? Who cares about the destination. They just found the Beach! Whoo Hoo!
Guess who made it to their destination.
Let's put together a little table of contents:
- The destination is 'unity'
- The mapbooks, old GPS' and the surf dudes represent a mixture or combination of denominations, traditions and human wisdom. Take your pick at what's what. Over the course of time, denominations come and go, traditions are reformed, and human wisdom - well that depends on the popular thought of the particular age one finds themselves in.
Only a few travelers of the 100 ever made it to the destination. When a road closed, the remotely updated GPS knew and created a new path ('Knew' path). When a road was under construction the remotely updated GPS knew, and found a suitable detour - and only the handful that took it ever arrived at the destination. What a shame for the others!
Hey - WAIT - does God care about unity for the sake of unity? Does He? For that matter, does God care about *any* issue for the sake of itself? The answer is both alarming and simple: "No"
- save one...
The 'one' issue that God has pursued relentlessly with us, His creation, is relationship. All other things fall in line behind this almost effortlessly, when relationship with God is faithfully established.
We modern group of 'churchists' certainly love to scoff at the Pharisees - right along with Jesus, right? (Matthew 23:1-36) We love to wave the flag of Martin Luther at those silly Catholics! Yet we cannot produce unity to save our lives. We are arrogant and conceited - all the while remaining failures - and do this all in the Holy name of GOD.
Some Anglicans are fighting to save 'orthodoxy' against other Anglicans who are trying to save 'orthodoxy' in Vancouver at St. John's Shaughnessy. I love St. Johns - it is one of my 'church homes' - but they are not innocent. Their problems don't necessarily sprout from the certain situation that they say it is about currently, but from a just as pervasive concept they accepted freely centuries ago.
In the same passage quoted above that calls us to, demands even, as faithful believers to be in 100% unity (agreement with one another) also forbids something else, the very thing we accepted so long ago... Factions...*ahem*, er, denominations.
"For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?...
Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building...
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and YOU are that temple. " - 1 Corinthians Chapters 1 through 3, condensed.
Oh yes, the table of contents... what exactly did the remotely updated GPS represent??
As many of you have most likely figured - The Holy Spirit.
'Wait a second...
if we just hang out all hippy style 'listening to the spirit' won't we all fall under hukster Todd Bentley's spell or a 100 just like him?! Yikes! We need people to organize and write out statements and form parties that we can agree to - yeah, like Martin Luther! Then we can be Lutherans and conform and then we will all agree and have unity!' ...or like John Wimber! Or John Calvin..wait...or Jacob Arminius - whatever! Or like Billy Graham! Or Brigham Young...ummm...er...uh...'
Lets see, we have spent since 312 A.D. in complete contravention of the new testament creating and/or joining denominations and the rule of man from Constantine to the Pope to the emerging church to the Toronto Blessing to Todd Bentley. All without unity, one with another. 'Man - if Jesus just hung around with us a little longer! We could've got all this worked out but he just took off... What a bummer!'
Yet, the Apostle Paul says, "I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought."
So - unity is commanded but we cannot create it. Nor is unity found by 'agreeing to disagree' whereas you agree with something actually disagreeable for the sake of unity. That is insincere and self defeating, as it ultimately breaks down; EG: Your name is Bob, and you like to 'agree to disagree' for the sake of 'unity'. Someone says everyone named Bob should pay more taxes. You agree to disagree, that is until they come to collect. Now what?
The GPS does bring us all to the destination, however. But not of our own designs. 'What! well, where do I get one then? I'm tired of this ratty old out-of-date map!'
“Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you."
The Holy Spirit - not a man, denomination, tradition, or popular opinion - will guide you into all Truth. Further evidence is seen in Jude 18-20 when the only teaching given in response to those who will cause division is simply: "...These are the men who divide you...but you dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit." *Not* 'run to your pastor', 'check the denominational guide book', no - not even 'run to the Torah'; Pray in the Holy Spirit.
'But what about Todd Bentley!? He SAYS he is hearing form the holy spirit yet there is so much controversy! This is just as confusing!!'
You know what? Todd is one man. If he is wrong, he will stand accountable to God. So guess who is to blame: the FOLLOWERS. The 300,000 people who go to seminars to 'hear a fresh word from the spirit'. This is hardly different from the millions that sit in church buildings, designating for themselves a 'pastor' to tell them everything. Yes, this is the lazy, discontented rabble known chiefly to the world as 'christians' who have never passionately pursued a real relationship with the creator of the universe. These are people who would also create for themselves a 'golden calf' because Moses was talking about some crazy confusing notion that God himself would lead them.
'Ok, I'm not really into gold cows anyway - how do I know if it is really God's Spirit talking to me? I like this GPS/Spirit stuff!'
Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.a He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd."
Can you dig what this means? Unity is never strived for or created. When you persistently follow up and pursue God for relationship, you will be found by Him. You will spend intimate time together and you will know His voice. When you know His voice, He will guide you into all Truth.
There are those of you still terrified to give up your traditions, because you may not really be found by God if you seek him personally, but take heart - Matthew 7:8 "For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." That's a promise. It's you who has to be the sincere seeker.
- Unity 'happens'.
Miraculous, it seems? Well, it is! You must remember when you encounter 10 different 'churches' that have 10 differing positions on doctorine that "God is not the Author of Confusion" (1 Corinthians 14:33), but He is the "Author and Finisher of our Faith." (Hebrews 12:2). So where do disagreeing churches fall? The truth is, anything else - all the disunity, factions, divisions, denominations, or whatever you choose to describe them - are sadly not born of God but of 'mere men' (1Corinthians 3:3-4). Modern Christian faith, or 'The Way', has sinfully discarded God's very Spirit in exchange for leaders who by the fruit and testamony of the modern church condition, eg: double mindedness, instability, show themselves to be doubters of the very creator they confess:
"But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." James 1:6-8
And so many have put their trust in these leaders!
Unity? Don't even bother. Really - don't.
Pursue your Creator.
"Seek First His Kingdom, and *these things* will be added to you as well", Luke 12:31.