It was a motley, cross and non-denominational gathering of spiritually hungry individuals. The unplanned and unforeseen “service” lasted about 5 1/2 hours and it seemed shorter than many of the 90-minute, Sunday morning variety. In many ways it was because these folks don’t “do” church . . . they are church . . . wherever they are and whatever they are doing. The denominational experience was varied and the theologies diverse, but there was a greater sense of unity there than in many meetings that I have attended over the years where unity means sameness, expressed in doctrines, creeds and stances.
If two people approach a common destination from opposite ends of the globe, they cannot get closer to their destination without getting closer to one another. I believe that Jesus Christ alone is the source of unity in the Church, whether you speak of an organization, an organism . . . whatever. Two people growing closer to Christ, coming from different ends of the theological spectrum, cannot possibly become more like Christ without becoming increasingly like one another. That means that spiritual maturity expresses itself in commonality and community. Seems as though I have read something like that in the book of Acts.
Years ago we espoused the virtues of denominational distinctives. We loved the things about ourselves that made us different from other brothers and sisters. I know this will sound harsh but this is ludicrous. If we are to become like Christ we will become more like one another.
A set of beliefs commonly agreed upon does not produce unity. Trying to give people “what they want” in a Sunday morning service does not produce unity. Programs don’t produce unity . . . you get it right? The only thing that produces true unity is Christ and people growing to become more like him. The more that church becomes about anything else other than Christ the greater potential there is for internal strife and conflict and exrnal impotence. The testimony of the Church in the community is empowered or negated by our willingness to establish Christ as the focal point of our living and believing.
Instead, speaking the truth in love,we will in all thingsgrow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
I know this is long but not as long as what I experienced last night. But sometimes a new perspective is what we need.