If you did not read my last blog, let me encourage you to go back, read the first blog, and then commence with this one.
Is it possible to build a revolutionary movement with differences of opinion, differences of viewpoint, differences of perspective? I believe so. In my first blog, I shared some of the differences that even existed in the early church, yet they were united under the banner of making disciples (see part 1).
Paul probably had this in mind when he wrote to the quarreling Corinthian church, “I beg you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that all of you agree with each other and not be split into groups. I beg that you be completely joined together by having the same kind of thinking and the same purpose (mission).” (1 Corinthians 1:10 NCV)
I Want to Promote a Common Mission within the Church
I want to propose and promote unity and synergy through love among pastors and churches. I believe we have less that divides us and more in common under the bold mission of making Jesus Christ known to a desperate world. Jesus’s final command to His Church was “Go and make disciples!” The early church heard that cry and acted. The Book of Acts is just that—a journal of the church acting under that mission. They literally “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) and changed society!
To speak of unity among churches is the heart of Christ. We have a very divided Body of Christ today, yet Jesus gave us His desire when He prayed, “I am coming to you; I will not stay in the world any longer. But they are still in the world. Holy Father, keep them safe by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they will be one, just as you and I are one.” (John 17:11)
So, the loaded question is, what is our common belief among churches? I fully realize that there are many differences of opinion with such a question. We are more divided than ever. We divide over the use of spiritual gifts, worship styles, doctrine, etc. With every issue, there is a counter argument. But what might be a unifying theme? I certainly don’t know the complete answer, but as a student of systematic theology, creeds, and being a pastor for the past 27 years, I would propose the 5th century creed that was written to unify the different branches of Christianity at that time. It is known today as “The Apostles’ Creed.” I know of no other creed that so envelopes the key aspects of what we believe the Bible teaches about the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today, this creed is accepted by the Catholic Church, Lutheranism, Anglicanism, Presbyterianism, Methodism, Congregational Churches, and most Evangelical Churches.
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic (universal) Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.
Dandy and Good, but What About…
But one might say, “Well, Steve, that sounds all dandy and good, but what about…?” You can finish the sentence. I’m not advocating anyone give up their viewpoint. I’m not proposing we have unity for unity’s sake. I’m not proposing that there is some unifying angel in the sky that is going to somehow unify us through just a creed. That would be likened to sprinkling fairy dust on our differences. But I am challenging our current thinking to consider what God could do if we were more unified. This is just a start.
Satan wants us divided. Jesus is the One Who said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” (Mark 3:25) I believe that God wants the Church more unified than we are currently. I want to do my part in building bridges between churches. I believe that God wants every sphere of culture to be radically influenced by a Kingdom of God revolution in our time!
Might God be using the current crisis in our world to unify the Church? I hope so. That’s what I’m working toward. I hope you will join the revolution and do your part to love the Body of Christ despite the differences.
Contending for Unity,