Unity Comes from Union. Union Does Not Come from Unity.

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November 8, 2020

John 17:24-26 (NIV)

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

CONSIDER THIS

Unity without union is like ice cream without cream. Unity does not mean mere togetherness. It does not mean getting along with everyone. It does not mean compromising conviction. It does not mean uniformity of thought. Unity is not something people achieve; rather it is a gift that can only be received. 

“I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Unity is the fruit of union. Union is the fruit of Jesus’ brand of love. Jesus’ brand of love is the fruit of deep and trusting obedience. As I read it and see it, the New Testament is concerned about two primary matters: 1. Establishing the nature, scope, power, and truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and 2. Dealing with false teaching coming from the spirit of the age. 

So what does this have to do with unity? It is the gospel of Jesus Christ which brings supernatural love into the world which manifests itself in a divine unity within human community, which convinces the world of the way and the truth and the life who is Jesus. The strategy of false teaching is to compromise the truth in the name of love (which is not love) in order to maintain a unity (which is not unity). 

You see, there is a way of approaching true doctrine that makes it seem false. And there is a way of approaching false doctrine that makes it seem true. The former are legalistic textualists. The latter are licentious heretics. Both miss Jesus and his gospel in very different yet equally self-righteous ways. The former claim the high ground of truth. The latter claim the high ground of grace. In reality, neither has either. 

The reality is grace and truth are not two things. They are one thing. They are, in fact, the love of God in Jesus Christ. They are not principles that can be learned or ideals to be held in tension. They will be lived and experienced in union or not at all; which is why they are only experienced in the living person of Jesus Christ and in a shared, loving union with him. Here is the import of this prayer in John 17. It is why the doctrine of the Trinity is the first and ultimate doctrine of the church.

“I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

The True Gospel can never be reduced to a flat doctrine. The True Gospel will always lead us into doctrine as a multi-dimensional dwelling place of revelation. The True Gospel is an infinite and eternal expanse of union with God. But remember, unity comes from union (never the other way around): Word and Spirit. Grace and Truth. Faith and Love. Ice and Cream. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. ;0) 

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, we thank you for your son, Jesus, who is the mystery long hidden and now revealed in and through all who would abandon themselves to him in trusting obedience. Oh how we need Jesus. Oh how we desire him. Come Holy Spirit and help us to grasp the mystery of true union with one another in Jesus. Bring us on the inside of it. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

THE QUESTIONS

  1. On which side of things do you tend to err– Legalistic textualist or licentious heretic? 
  2. Why might that be? What is it about you that would cause you to miss the mark in this particular way? 
  3. True Gospel and false teaching. Does this help clarify the landscape all around us today on so many fronts? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Answer 1: I tend to lean more towards textual legalism.
    Answer 2: I was was raised in a denomination that primarily stressed “Pure Doctrine “. Stressing truth over grace naturally leads to this outcome.
    Answer 3: Yes. Proclamation of the Gospel without the accompanying acts of divine love leads to a justified charge of hypocrisy. This I believe is the reason the American Church is so anemic. That and the willingness to compromise the proclamation of the Truth in order to avoid conflict.

  2. Many say that the freedom to do what you please is love. The unity of this thought has given power to all kinds of evil. Because the majority says this is so – is why this country is in the state that it is. Unity in love-has love as it guide! Only God’s love is the judge of all loves. For our love comes from selfish ambitions. Only the love that put others wefare above their own is a love we can build unity on.

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