Last week, I started a new chain blog called “Chain Blog: Real Relational Unity.” In that introductory post, besides explaining what I mean by “real relational unity,” I also made the following request: “So, in this chain blog, I’m asking you to consider “real relational unity” among brothers and sisters in Christ. Your posts can be theoretical, exegetical, conception, and ideal. But, I also ask you to include real examples of living in unity with other followers of Jesus Christ – especially with those who may be different than you.”
I did not provide examples in that post, so I’m writing this eighth post to provide a few examples. Each case is an examples of steps toward “real relational unity” with other followers of Jesus Christ who are different than us in some way(s). Also, in each case, I offer to struggles that we encountered.
First, a few years ago, our family hosted a weekly get together in our home. I call it a “get together” because that’s exactly what we did: we got together to share a meal and to talk about what God was doing in our lives. There was no other agenda. We invited some friends whose views about the church were very similar to our own, but we also invited some neighbors who were part of various church organizations and denominations. The biggest struggle that we had was that for many of my neighbors, this was simply a dinner with neighbors – there was nothing (or little) of spiritual significance involved because it was not considered “church.” The “local church” created the biggest boundaries to continuing in real relational unity for us. We continued meeting together for 2-3 years, but, while we continued including people who were different than us, they rarely joined us for more than one or two dinners.
Second, soon after the first example, our family (and then some friends) began spending time in a government assisted housing development near us. While getting to know the people there, we met many who were (or had been) part of various local churches. We did not introduce ourselves as representing any “local church” and kept our conversations about Jesus Christ – not any church organization or denomination. In this neighborhood, we worked with the neighbors to help them server their neighbors in Jesus’ name. To be honest, the only struggles we faced in this neighborhood were issues of trust. Most of the neighbors assumed we wanted something from them. Once they learned that we loved them and were truly interested in them as people, those trust boundaries began to fade.
Third, not too long ago, we worked together with a megachurch in our area. Some friends of ours who are part of that church organization lead a food pantry ministry out of that church’s building. They needed help from believers who would be willing to talk to the people while they waited to get their food. We worked with them weekly to talk with and pray with the people who were waiting. The people who came to the food pantry were often amazed that we were not “members” of that particular church organization. They were surprised that we would work with them. It was great to be able to talk about our unity in Jesus Christ and our desire to serve others in his name. We did face some organizational struggles in this situation – not caused by our friends, by the way. But, this ministry is still going on, and they continue to work with people who are part of different church organizations.
So, those are a few examples from the past several years in which we attempted to get to know others or to serve others in Jesus’ name in order to live in the real relational unity we have in Jesus Christ.
Obviously, each case above demonstrates how we are only imperfectly living in that unity and how there continue to be struggles when we share our lives together in Christ. In many ways, each case is a small step toward that real relational unity. And, in each case, Jesus Christ was the center of whatever we were doing together.
Chain blog rules:
1) If you would like to write the next blog post (link) in this chain, leave a comment stating that you would like to do so. If someone else has already requested to write the next link, then please wait for that blog post and leave a comment there requesting to write the following link.
2) Feel free to leave comments here and discuss items in this blog post without taking part in the actual “chain.” Your comments and discussion are very important in this chain blog (both on this post and the other link posts in the chain).
3) When you write a link in this chain, please reply in the comments of the previous post to let everyone know that your link is ready. Also, please try to keep an updated list of links in the chain at the bottom of your post, and please include these rules at the bottom of your post.
“Links” in the “Real Relational Unity” chain blog:
1. “Chain Blog: Real Relational Unity” by Alan
2. “The Treasure of Unity ‘in’ our Relationships” by Jim
3. “So The World May Know – Observations on the Road to Unity” by Christopher
4. “Christian Unity – What it is and What it’s not” by Nathan
5. “Steps to Relational Unity” by Randi
6. “Learn to Live or Live to Learn” by Greg
7. “The Limits on Unity” by Arthur
8. “Joints of Supply” by David
9. “Some Examples of Real Relational Unity” by Alan
10. “An Example of Relational Unity” by Greg
11. “Relational Unity Begins at Home” by Kathleen
12. “Do Not Seek Christian Unity” by Jeremy
13. Who will write the 13th link post in the chain?