Presents the mandate for unity of the church to reconcile and unite the Body as one in Christ…
Jan Paron/October 7, 2012
The world around us mirrors an expanse of cultures. It is among this uniqueness of different peoples that Scripture mandates the Body to reconcile and unite as one in Christ. Through this process of unification believers will cross over, negotiate through and travel along side culture in the process. Revelations 7:9 shows an eschatological portrait of diversity of a “great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues.” What heaven reflects, the Body should mirror on earth for a Kingdom trajectory.
Perhaps, one finds the very core of unity of the Church in John 17:20-23. These passages are part of a discourse that Jesus prays at the threshold to the cross. Jesus not only prays for the unity of His disciples, but also the same for generations of believers who would follow them. This prayer of oneness provides direction for a unified, Body of believers from all tribes and nations. An analysis of its result statements (hina clauses) that relate to oneness, show four major premises for unity of the Church of Jesus Christ.
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me (John 17:20-23 KJV).
Four Premises for Unity
- Vision of Purpose and Knowledge. That believers may be joined together in “one fold and one shepherd” with “unity of purpose and knowledge through Jesus” (cf John 10:30; 17:21a).
- Bearing of Witness. That believers abide in the one Shepherd and as one fold to bear unified witness in one accord to the identity of Jesus as the Sent One (John 17:21b).
- Reflection of God’s Glory. That they may be kept in solidarity as one fold, transformed into His likeness to reflect His glory (John 17:22; 2 Cor 3:18).
- Perfection of One in Him. That they may be made complete and full as one, believers collectively abiding in Christ and Him dwelling within every believer (John 17:23).
These premises serve as guiding principles that give purpose to leadership in a multicultural environment. The reason to bridge the gaps that divide the Body does not hinge on demonstrating secular diversity in the local church, rather reconciling the called with God and each other through unity of the Spirit and displaying spiritual oneness that glorifies Him to the world for the sake of the Gospel. To achieve unity for a heterogeneous, multicultural local church or ministry, Christians must understand the biblical framework behind and particulars for supporting it. The forthcoming series presents the orthodoxy, orthopathy and orthopraxy to begin the local church in bridging the gap for unity and oneness in Christ.
- To what extent does the American local church support the principles for unity from John 17:20-23?
- Paron, Jan. Seeking the M.O.S.A.I.C. Church. Alsip: All Nations Leadership Institute, 2011.
Jan Paron, All Rights Reserved 2011