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Increasing maturity in Christ is demonstrated by increasing unity with his followers

Posted by on Apr 2, 2012 in comment highlights, discipleship, unity | 5 comments

Increasing maturity in Christ is demonstrated by increasing unity with his followers

Last week, I published a guest post by Greg Gamble called “Identifying with the Shunammite.” Now, I want to highlight something else that Greg wrote.

This time, Greg left a comment on my post “Scripture… As We Live It #202” which was a re-mix of Titus 3:10-11 – a passage about divisive people. But, I want his comment to get more notice, so I’m publishing it here as a “Comment Highlight.”

Here is Greg’s comment:

One would think that Paul might have explained in more detail exactly how to get past the trap of taking sides in a serious matter. But one would be mistaken to look for an answer to a question that is not in God’s heart, and therefore not explicitly spelled out in scripture.

All of history is a record of Adams children being tested to see if they will choose to be right, or to walk in truth, as it is in Jesus. Eph 4:21. The temptation to be right has lured many, many brethren who started off walking with Jesus to feel it necessary to forsake humility and long suffering, prayer and patience in order to defend truth.

It’s instructive that Jesus didn’t expose Judas for 3 yrs, though he, and likely the disciples knew he was a thief and liar. Our appetite for 12 step programs and prescriptions of how to live in the Spirit is not borne of God. We have perfected the art of routing the Judas’s from out midst, resulting in a church at war, and the greatest impediment to tired sinners bowing before the Prince of Peace.

Paul prefaced Eph 4 with precisely how to prevent division or respond to divisive ones: “all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

It is messy, uncertain, risky and dangerous to weak brothers to witness a church going thru this kind of conflict. But it is necessary.

It’s the one universal way that we learn that we all are capable of division, even heresy, if we don’t choose to be Christlike rather than to be right, or as we have disingenuously called ‘love the truth.’

The tension between family members that quarrel is where they stand or fall. Its always right to stand for the truth, but its not always right to stand with a brother that stands for the truth. Sometimes, people who are right in truth are wrong in attitude, forgetting that truth is not always being right.

There is way to heal divisions that have already occurred, like the schism we find ourselves in after two millenniums of drinking the Kool Aid of being right.

We must endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

If we are indeed going to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, we all going to have to relearn how to walk in ALL lowliness and meekness (no fleshly anger) with long suffering, forbearing one another in love. If there is a prescription, that’s it.

If a church, a family or even a political party would make that their SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) even for selfish reasons, they would soon be widely known as leaders, mentors and an example to follow.

Error, untruthfulness, lies, carnality et al become increasingly difficult to practice in an atmosphere of humility, meekness,long suffering and gentle but firm patience with each others weaknesses.

Division, arguing over doctrines, who is right, church models etc is a devilish, foreign vaccination that Satan has injected Gods people with. Satan tricked Eve into wanting to know Good and Evil like God, and all of her children have faced the same test ever since.

Like our first parents, we will choose knowledge when we don’t hunger for the tree of Life. Tolerating division among God’s family is like getting vaccinated.

Doctors have convinced us that the way to not get sick with a disease from your neighbor is to put a little bit of that disease into your blood, in order to kickstart and speed up your own immune system to fight it when you contact it.

And we thought blood letting in the middle ages was voodoo science!

This assumes your immune system is not good enough, and it may not be, and therein is the hook. Rather than strengthen your immune system, rely on poison to make you stronger.

We fall prey to this trick because we don’t believe that the Lord Jesus, who indwells us, is the anti-body to not only our neighbors infection, but also our own, that we inflict on them.
Fear of our neighbors sin has blinded us to our own.

This would be a good place to remind us that Jesus told us to remove the log from our own eye so that we can see clearly to take the splinter from our neighbors.
Apparently, we all have something in our eyes.

We don’t need to defend the truth at the cost of losing a family member who is mistaken, deceived or even proud.

They will not be able to stand up to the flood of love and conviction of the Holy Spirit that He releases on them, when we quit trying to do His work and just let Him do it.

And if they do manage to stand up to Him, like Judas, they will go out from among us, proving that they were never part of us.

If we will continue in meekness, walking in truth ourselves, loving even our enemies, calling out to Father to change the hearts of those who oppose themselves and us, then we will witness the miracle of unity that turned the Roman Empire upside down in a generation.



Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 4-2-2012

    I will take a spoonful of Greg’s medicine here. If I am to err, I want to err on the side of love and patience. The Kingdom of God surely works with divine power and not flesh power. I remember a many fleshly incidence with Jesus faithful disciples without having to resort to mentioning Judas.
    So we are all growing and learning. I do know Paul, and Jesus, and the others were passionate for the truth, yes? So, I personally will pray and attempt to use the grace, and wisdom presented here, to continue to grow in the Love, and Grace of the Lord Jesus.
    I also remember Jesus saying, “That which I whisper in your ear, shout it from the roof tops.”

  2. 4-2-2012

    I think I am less worried than I was about being right. I am still pretty obsessed with it, but to the extent I have changed at all I agree with the point Greg has made.

    There is a second point which seems to me to come from the same root. If we should be less concerned with “driving out” the black sheep, so also we would do well to be less concerned with keeping all the healthy sheep in our pen. Groups of Christians I have known always seem to regard it as a moral loss when a Christian leaves. In a personal way, it is. But where can they go besides another hilltop under the shepherding Christ?

    I am not speaking of a dispute that results in a firm “Good Riddance!” Or let me say, that is not my first thought. I mean first of all that we take unity of the Spirit to mean “you shall all stay right here TOGETHER” when it means just as equally that “you shall all be together even when apart.”

    Some of the hurtful splitting happens when people have tried to long to hold together in too narrow of a sense. To use the example of a family, expecting that a family will dwell together under one roof in one way of life is presuming too much into what God means for familial love. I say this as a dissident from the “get out at 18 and don’t come back” cultural norm; I have just moved back in with my parents and siblings although completely able to live on my own. But there is a touch of presumption in my family (and much more in others) that God wants you here, and only the devil or the world would take you hence.

    There is a “unity” which is required when spending considerable time with others. This unity can involve deferring to others and serving them, and it can be no more or less than you owe in any workplace. It is the “unity” which requires you to say “hello” if you meet in the grocery store.

    There is a unity by which you greet a man like a brother although you haven’t seen him in years.

    Unity is not kept IN a group any more than it is kept in a bottle. Unity in the spirit is a letting in and bearing with, but also a letting out–because it is only by the Spirit that we call “brothers and sisters” the whole fellowship of Zion to which the author of Hebrews calls us. By any other measure they are far from us. By the Spirit we let go of all the treasure which we have laid hold of.

  3. 4-2-2012

    But further, if you bear with me a little longer, unity in the spirit is what gives us confidence to confront what we ought to confront. It is a spirit of fear which says that we must not confront lest we destroy the unity. Allow me an example of extreme: We have seen in the world how a wife does not confront her husband over his abuse of their children because she is afraid that he will leave her. This is not right.

    Likewise, the confrontation we are called to in scripture is always in the defense of other believers–never ourselves. What harm did Judas cause to the twelve? Yet when Peter joined the Jews, Paul confronted him. Not, to be sure, with the intent of throwing him out of the church; but neither did he bide his peace for unity.

    Likewise the imprecations and curses of the testament (“Better a millstone around his neck and cast into the sea,” “Clouds without water,” “If anyone preaches a different gospel, let him be accursed!” “I wish they would cut themselves off!”) are all prompted by concern for a child of God who is being harmed by the falsity.

    Now, this is no magic standard–it is easy for anyone to say they are “driving out the heretic” for the sake of helpless. I do not pretend here to offer some Never-Fail Formula For Disposing Of Heretics. But I bear witness that confrontation does arise in the true church (as much as arguments arise in any family). We do not fear these disputes when we know we are bound together. Is there need for more grace, charity, and humility in how we conduct our “fearless” disputing? Yes, yes, and yes.

    But it is when I am afraid to disagree with a brother that I know we do not have the unity of the spirit. I may fear a “reprisal” or I may fear a retreat; either way, my “unity” is a white-wash.

  4. 4-3-2012


    I definitely understand the desire to err on the said of love, grace, and mercy. I’m learning that we can hold to our convictions (to those things that we are convinced of in our own conscience) and yet continue to accept those who are in Christ but who disagree with us. It’s not easy… In fact, I guess it’s impossible on our own. I guess it’s a good thing that we’re not on our own.


    Wow… a great comment on a post that started as a great comment. 🙂

    I really liked this: “Unity is not kept IN a group any more than it is kept in a bottle. Unity in the spirit is a letting in and bearing with, but also a letting out–because it is only by the Spirit that we call “brothers and sisters” the whole fellowship of Zion to which the author of Hebrews calls us.”


  5. 4-3-2012

    something happened not so long after Judas ran out of time: Ananias & Sapphira are now etched in memory; and people feared the presence of God among His children even before He caught them in a lie.
    Sending away a rebellious soul is always for the purpose of reconciliation [a la I Corinthians 5]. If we can’t find to do what it takes to see someone restored, there’d be no right in running them out.
    I’m half-expecting to find Spirit-powered people in disagreement somewhere, but just not finding this. Christ is not against Himself, otherwise His Kingdom would not stand. Most major disagreements seem to be powered in the world, the flesh, or the Adversary.


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