Friday, March 2, 2012

A Tension Exists

Most of you who read this blog desire to be in unity with all other Christ followers. You also hope to see reform occur within Christ's church. These two desires often, sadly, leave us in a place of tension.

On the one hand, we desire unity because Christ expects it (see John 17 as just one example). Additionally, since we are positionally one in Christ, we should desire to live like it. Furthermore, unity brings joy.

On the other hand, we hope and long for reform within the broader church of Christ. This, of course, can take various forms but in general follows biblical commands and models. My guess is that we've all attempted to discuss these sorts of things with other believers. Sometimes the conversations go well, but at other times they do not. Like me, you may have been referred to as "divisive" because of the the topics you have brought up.

The manner in which we have conversations can certainly help, but in the end if you press your point about church reform, some will see you as a cause of division within the body of Christ.

We end up in a sort of continual tension. We hope for unity and we hope for reform. The two can go together but experientially they often do not.

What do we do? We hope and pray that they can go together. We speak the truth in love. We talk about reform, but we seek unity to a greater degree. If we fault in one direction, let's let it be unity.

If you seek both unity and church reform, you will likely have to deal with this tension for the remainder of your life. I'm thankful that come our eternity in heaven, we will be perfectly united and devoid of tension.


Marshall said...

What do we do?
Reform is an infinite road toward unity, and so therefore needs be abandoned. The end of the age, and the completion of our time here, are both near at hand. And, I'm not just posing the pragmatic...
Transformation is the clear path into "one mind, one accord". [Acts 2-29]
Greeting many in various places who have been transformed by the Spirit of Christ, I cannot imagine why we would any longer pursue reform.

Eric said...


Thanks for your comment, but I'm not sure what your main point is. Could you clarify please? Thanks.

Eric H said...

I think I understand what Marshall is saying. Why keep reforming, when transformation brings an end to reformation.

Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

But there are other scriptures that teach us to keep on, hold fast to the promise, remember Lot's wife, etc.

Luk 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Heb 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

I see "transformation" eventual, not all of us at the same place/time/maturity. There is still "overcoming", "holding fast", "watching", being "sober-minded", "convincing gainsayers", "examine yourselves", "prove all things. hold fast to that which is good" to be done while we are here.

There is no cruise control on that plow because we are not all in the same place (see Romans 14). But we can overcome the world.

Eric said...

Eric H.,

I can see what you are saying as far as personal transformation is concerned. As for reform, I'm mainly talking about the hope for change within institutional church structures.

Arthur Sido said...

Like others I run into this all the time, typically where I have to set aside reformation for the sake of unity rather than the other way around.

I don't think we can focus on personal transformation and just assume that unity will happen as a result, nor did the Christ or Paul who specifically prayed and spoke of unity.

Eric said...


I agree. I Corinthians is a great example of this. Paul first spoke on the importance of unity. He then proceeded to tell them various areas of their church life that needed reforming. The apostle saw the need for both.

Tim A said...

I don't think we should make a personal policy on onity or reform/ transformation. God wants both.. It's not up to us to choose one or the other. I think the Holy Spirit will guide us in pursuing both and how to do that in each situation. He does not expect us to be successfully in both but faithful in pursuing both. Just because we are not successful to our expectations does not mean we can give up on what God wants.