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That They May Be One…

23 Aug
from Google Images

from Google Images

In John 17:11 Jesus prayed that his disciples would be kept as one people, saying: “Holy Father, keep through your own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.”[1] If Jesus’ prayer would be answered, and he claimed that his Father always answered his prayers (John 11:42), what would that church unity look like today? If the Church today and throughout history has been one as the Father and Jesus are one, then unity must be something other than structural unity. Moreover, if this is true, then unity, according to God, does not appear to be the same as unity according to man.

Unity, according to John 17:11, could never refer to doctrinal unity, because the gentile churches throughout the Roman Empire, at least in practice, expressed the doctrine of circumcision differently than the Jewish churches in Palestine. Therefore, it would be wrong to impose doctrine as a system of power to hold the church together. Neither was there ever a time in the life of the first century Church where unity was vested in the power of a single man or a single group of men. The fact is, ‘lording-it-over’ one another was never an accepted practice in the New Testament Church, (cp. 2Corinthians 1:24; 1Peter 5:3). Therefore, whether we speak of Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism or Protestant denominationalism, unity, as expressed in Jesus’ prayer to his Father, can never be found in these structures. Which one of them seeks to be the other’s slave? Which organizational structure is beating a path to be last or to be of no reputation?

Am I saying no one who worships God in these structures is Christian? Of course not, but I am saying that Church unity, as Jesus prayed for it, cannot be expressed through the structural authority of these organizations. Jesus’ model organization is the local church setting itself up in the world as the Body of Christ. This is the manner in which it was done in the first century of the Christian era. No man was its head, nor was there a single body of believers who was first in order over the rest. Each church was autonomous and neither came behind nor had authority over any other body of believers. Church unity was found in the solitary fact that Jesus was Lord over all.

Some might say in alarm: “Anyone could come into such a church and lead it astray, if there were no leadership or doctrinal agreement.” I could then ask if the Holy Spirit is responsible for the splintered organizational structure we find in Church history, including modern Christendom. As I see it, we have a problem placing our trust in the leadership of Christ, our Lord. We offer him lip service by calling him “Lord!” but keep taking the reins of control from his hands and placing them in our own, but to what end? Look around! Does the world see Christendom as a single entity or a house divided? Yet, Jesus claimed that if the world was able to see our unity, they would understand God had sent him (John 17:21). The world will never be able to conclude that God had sent Jesus into the world, as long as we seek to control our own unity through worldly means—through one doctrinal or philosophical thought, one law or one human authority. The nations do such things, but it shall not be for those in the Kingdom of God (Mark 10:42-44).

If it is the way of the world to exercise authority over themselves, what should it look like in the Church, if we are not to do such a thing? If it is the way of the world’s leaders to seek to be first, what would it look like in the Church for those in authority to seek to be last? If it is the way of the world for its great men to enlarge their status among men, what would it look like in the Church if our leaders sought no reputation? If it is way of the world for its leaders to force opposition into submission, what would it look like in the Church, if those who disagreed disallowed the use of force and instead submitted to one another out of love? What would such behavior look like today? What would it have looked like in Christian history? I’m sure all believers would agree that Jesus, the Christ, is Lord, but who among us really practices such a belief?

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[1] As I said HERE, this current theme about the person of Jesus is based upon the book: The Jesus Style by Gayle Erwin. They are my thoughts about his book. He may or may not agree with the impression his book has made upon me, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading what Gayle wrote and recommend his book to anyone who is looking for a good read about Jesus.

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4 Comments

Posted by on August 23, 2015 in Jesus

 

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4 responses to “That They May Be One…

  1. Carl

    August 24, 2015 at 03:09

    Sorry, my last comment was a reply to Eddies reply to my first comment

    Carl

     
  2. Carl

    August 24, 2015 at 03:04

    Hello Eddie, thank you so much. Yes I think it is a liberating attitude, to know that we can have different views on some issues, and that we don’t need to be dependent on any leaders, at least have the courage to question some teachings. It will be exciting to follow your explanations concerning the book that you mentioned. Thank you.

    Lord’s blessings to you

    Carl

     
  3. Carl

    August 23, 2015 at 09:00

    Thank you, yes, and your contributions have been an eyeopener for me. You have made issues about for example prophecies for our end time seem much more simple.than generally thought. And how much better we can understand the times of Jesus and the Apostles. It just demonstrates the importance of differing views both from denominations and from individuals within a Church or organization and from separate individuals also not belonging to any groups. Jesus wants each member to think for themselves. Jesus says that many can become lost because of lack of understanding. All members of the body can contribute to an understanding. So we must look for other’s views and thereby we are able to adjust our own views. I think the comparison with our physical body as described in 1Cor12 also is a very good illustration of the body of Christ as one unity, however, differing in their tasks, The spiritual members of the body of Christ have different tasks just as the physical members of the body have different tasks.

    Some main principles stand with not much to adjust to so much anymore of course. And much of the understanding of doctrines we have got now, is also a product obtained by contributions from different parts of the Church in the past. However, some of these doctrines that may seem obvious to us now, has also still to be tested. One of these is what is meant by the Millenium Reign of Christ. It has always been an obvious case for me, however, I got many issues resolved and can sleep much better and waiting for Him with confidence, thank you. Instead of looking for any bad man that shall turn up to fulfill a purpose before Christ’s Coming. It caused me also to look at the world situation in whole new way. For example what is Gog-Magog and what is Israel nowadays. Gog-Magog in Ezekiel and in Revelation is the same I think for now. And I don’t think there will be any WW3. It’s just all a set up to make something fit prophecies in the Bible that however, are already fulfilled..The exception is the God’s consuming fire that descends from heaven to destroy Satan’s armies in the World. And that is just followed by Judgment Day and New Jerusalem and the Regathering of all the tribes of Israel. That has not happened yet, only the “socalled Jews” and some real Jews also of course, inhabit that area now. The Jews will be saved when Jesus Returns after His thousand year Reign has ended.

    Of course some doctrines cannot be debated after my view. For example that God is only good, which is by definition, of course. I have seen some who want tell us that God are doing evil things and therefore has an evil side. However, they misunderstand it, because what God may be doing sometimes is to withdraw His protection against evil thoughts or actions performed by ourselves or from others some times. Some says that since evil exists, He must have an evil side also, so as the nature is a balance between good and evil God is also. However, they don’t take into account that God has created evil, so that evil has the possibility to appear if we so choose to. It shall be a free will for us to love Him. If we don’t choose Him we choose evil part of the creation. But God is not a part of His own creation He created it separate from Himself. But He has compassion for it and can take part in it if He so chooses.

    Oh I feel there are so many agendas around to deceive the Christians, and many are very clever to combine New Age philosophies with Bible Doctrines. I think it can have major impact on what Christians are waiting for in the end times and even be detrimental to there salvation if they should end up in any of the scenarios that may be created by the PTB.

    Thank you, sorry for the long reply. It was not the meaning but I got some associations along while writing.

    Best wishess
    Carl

     
    • Eddie

      August 23, 2015 at 14:00

      Greetings Carl, and thank you for reading and especially for your encouraging remarks. It is indeed a wonderful “peace” to know we all don’t have to believe alike on all things in order to be considered brethren by God. I know that this was a liberating experience for me when I was first able to understand it in Christ. I don’t mind the long reply; it shows you are excited about the Lord, and that is a wonderful blessing!

      Concerning God doing evil, beginning next month I hope to start a new series that speaks to this argument. I intend to follow Dr. Paul Copan’s book: “Is God a Moral Monster?” A list of most of the titles of my studies can be found by clicking on the tab containing the title of his book at the top of my webpage.

      Lord bless you in all of your studies,

      Eddie

       

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