Unity without Uniformity – Part 1
I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:23
The last prayer Jesus prayed before His crucifixion was that we would come together in unity. That’s a tall order! We’re a thoroughly diverse assortment, differing denominationally, doctrinally, politically, emotionally, intellectually, socially and materially, often to the point of enmity and division. So how can Christ’s prayer be answered and His people united? We can start by acknowledging that unity is God’s will and committing ourselves to work toward it. Next, we can learn as Paul teaches the principles of unity to the divided church at Rome: 1) Unity demands that we don’t judge one another.‘ Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls’ (Romans 14:4). God alone is authorized to hand out verdicts. Even when you’re right, or you’re the more knowledgeable party, you still have no right to judge. Your job is to ‘make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit’ (Ephesians 4:3). Discuss it with God, then trust His wisdom. 2) Unity requires us to respect each other’s convictions. ‘Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind’ (Romans 14:5). Personal convictions, not the enforced opinions of others, are what Paul is referring to. The desire to make someone else over in your image is a form of idolatry and pride that destroys any possibility of unity. God reserves the right to bring up His own children without your interference! He’ll mold and lead them where and when He decides, because He understands their needs and capacities. So trust Him with His job, and do yours by loving and respecting others.
Heavenly Father, help me work toward unity with others without conforming to our differences. In Jesus’ Name, Amen