THE CHRISTIAN QUOTATION OF THE DAY
Christ, our Light
Sunday, October 22, 2006

We dare not stand idle, with Christian forces disunited, and see the lead taken by communities which are not Christian. We may not shrink back with fear, nor sit complacently with folded hands. With such opportunities on every side, the call is imperious to examine ourselves, to set our minds to work, to gird up our loins, and to unite together to overcome the forces of evil and to bring in the Kingdom of Christ.
What, then, is the nature of the unity we seek after, and the manner of our search?
1. It is not a secular unity, and must be prompted by no secular motive. The unity we seek is deeper than anything that the world offers. Communism, Fascism, National Socialism, and even Shintoism have proved their ability to bind men together in a common enterprise with great devotion and self-sacrifice; but these are secular ideals, intermixed with self-interest, the love of mastery, and the use of force. Christian Unity can only be “in Christ.” It is based on the New Birth and New Life in Christ, and upon the oneness of all the members in the Christ who is the Head. Therefore, “the quest for the unity of the Church must in fact be identical with the quest for Jesus Christ as the concrete Head and Lord of the Church.” *
What kind of unity, then, do we ask? It must be God’s kind, that for which Christ prayed, and which, therefore, must be in the line of God’s purpose. Will He not then take the initiative? It is for us to wait upon Him, and to go through the gates which He opens, to cast up the highway, to gather out the stones of stumbling, to lift up the standard, and to prepare the way of the Lord. (Isa. 62:10)
2. The task is not, in essence, the securing of uniformity, or cooperation, or Church reunion, or any of the external forms, through which nevertheless the unity may be manifested. Within the wide bounds of the Christian Church there is abundant scope for the multiplicity of races, languages, and social conditions; room also for separate organizations with different traditions of faith and order, and much diversity of operation.
But there is no room for strife or hostility, for pride or self-assertion, for exclusiveness or unkind judgments, nor for that kind of independence which leads men to ignore their fellowship with the great company of believers, the communion of saints. These things are contrary to the revealed will of God, and should be made at once to cease. As these disappear, the outward manifestation of unity will come in such ways as the Spirit of God shall guide.
3. The task to which we are called is not the sacrifice of any principle in which we firmly believe. It is rather to return to Christ not a figure of the imagination, but the Christ of the Scriptures, and to listen to His voice in obedience, to discover afresh what is the Truth. All unpretentious Bible study, every effort to disseminate a true scriptural theology, and every earnest prayer is part of the task of promoting that unity which is truly Christian.
We must not envisage Christian Unity as consisting of far-off and doubtful schemes, but as something very nigh which affects us all. If we are really to seek for Christian Unity, we must be prepared to pay the cost. For it must be based upon love, and love is always costly. It will never be attained until there is “far more humility, far more thought, far more self-sacrifice, and far more prayer, than there is at present.” **
If we are right in the conclusion that such disunion as has been sinful in the history of the Church has been due to pride, self-assertion, and contempt for God’s Word and commandment, then it follows that the way to the unity which God wills is through humility, love of the brethren, and obedience to the Divine Revelation. When Christians pray to be shown where they have been wrong, proud, complaisant, or censorious, and to be put right; when they meet for common counsel and study of the Word, in the spirit of obedience and prepared to subject their individual opinions to the guidance of the Spirit; where the strong are willing to foster and strengthen the weak; and where all are seeking the common good rather than their own sectional interests; then the pathway to unity will become plain, and God will grant His blessing.
“We need to be more like our blessed Master. What will contribute most to making the world believe that the Father sent the Son?” asks Bishop Moule. He gives the answer, “The manifestation of the presence of the Lord in all who bear His Name, so that they forget themselves in HIM, would do so to a degree now inconceivable. It would tend more than all ecclesiastical schemes to an external and operative cohesion. But it would do so, not by policy, but by grace; not by the universal acceptance of a hierarchical program, but by the life of Jesus manifested in mortal flesh.” ***
This is our great need, to be more like Christ, that His likeness may be seen in our lives; and this is just what is promised to us as we yield ourselves in full surrender to the working of His Spirit. Then, as we draw nearer to Christ, we shall be drawn nearer to His people; and in our search for unity with the members we shall be drawn closer to the Head.
* Karl Barth, The Church and the Churches, p. 18
** Streeter, Restatement and Reunion, p. 56
*** Moule, Ephesian Studies, p. 185
... G. T. Manley, Christian Unity, London: Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1945, p. 86-88 (see the book; see also Matt. 9:36-38; Isa. 62:10; Lam. 3:24; more at Christ, Church, Communion, Complacency, Devotion, Fear, Quest, Strength, Unity, Will of God)

 
Compilation Copyright, 1996-2019, by Robert McAnally Adams,
        Curator, Christian Quotation of the Day,
        with Robert Douglas, principal contributor
Logo image Copyright 1996 by Shay Barsabe, of “Simple GIFs”, by kind permission.
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Last updated: 04/14/16

 

 



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