Paul writes to the church in Corinth, the church in Philippi, the church in Thessalonica, the church in Colossae, and the church in Ephesus. Luke writes about the church in Jerusalem and the church in Antioch as well as the church in several cities scattered around the Roman Empire.
Today, is there still a church in your city, or are there multiple churches in your city? How do you view the church in your city? How does God view the church in your city? Do you think their should be unity among the church in your city? Does God? Are you working to maintain the unity that you have in Christ with others in the church in your city? Or should you not work to maintain the unity of the church in your city because God doesn’t expect that kind of unity?
Well, Jon has written a post that comes very close to describing what I see in the New Testament. The post is called “Being the church in â€¦â€¦” The post is related specifically to being the church in Stevenage in the UK, but I think it applies to every city. I’m not sure when Jon wrote this post. I came across it recently because of the prayer synchroblog in which we both took part.
The entire post is very good. Jon explains the implications of recognizing that all believers in a particular location are part of the same body. For example, consider this paragraph:
Although there are weaknesses in this picture it does illustrate a remarkable truth. The unity of the church is in Jesus. Unity is not about all being in one place and being able to enjoy in a common style of corporate worship expression. Rather, unity can only come from the fact that we are in Jesus. When [we] try and find unity through corporate worship styles or common theology we may find some agreement but we never find unity, in fact in focusing on these things we merely take the focus away from the one who is our unity.
This is an important concept that is often lost to us. Our unity is in Jesus Christ. We do not find unity in our theologies, or our covenants, or our denominations, or our leadership. Unity is only found in Jesus Christ through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit who indwells each of God’s children. It is only through this shared bond (fellowship) of the Holy Spirit that we can find unity. We might find agreement with those who are like us, but this is not the unity in which God has called us to walk. In fact, this type of agreement (that is, agreement with those who are like us) only emphasizes the fact that we are not walking in unity with other brothers and sisters in Christ. This is not the kind of unity that we can build. Instead, it is a unity that is already created in Christ Jesus. Instead of trying to build unity, we are to walk in the unity that God has already provided through his son, Jesus Christ. We can only walk in that unity through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
By the way, when Scripture talks about believers being united with one another, I do not think this is a nebulous, spiritual, eternal unity only. It must be a present reality in the lives of each believers. Why? Because John wrote that the world would see this unity, and because of this unity they would recognize that God sent Jesus into the world (John 17:20-23). Thus, our unity must be something that can be seen, especially by those outside the church.
So, once again, how do you view the church in your city? How does God view the church in your city?