Unity in the Spirit
I think there are times within the Church that we can get the concept of unity twisted. Unity for most, is the unity of the mind; that if we think the same, we are then united. Many people in the Church that have a different mentality or different perspective are shunned or even rejected because of their views. Most of them get corrected into the mindset of the corrector, and persuade the person to think their way. This of course creates people into clones and doesn’t allow people to think for themselves in fear of rejection. We can’t go overboard and change our perspective of the core principles that the Bible teaches us (ex: The resurrection, that Jesus is Lord and the Messiah, etc.), but things that don’t affect our salvation, hinder our relationship with Jesus, or distort our view of who Jesus is are okay to have different opinions on.
There have been so many church splits in protestant circles, that I find it hard to keep count. These divisions have occurred because of the difference of views and opinions, it’s as if the church gathers together only when they agree on something and scatter upon disagreements. We call these different sects denominations. It’s important not to have a denominational mindset, because denomination means “divided nations”. We were never suppose to divide nations but disciple them. What’s happening is that a lot of the church has reduced the unity of the Spirit to the unity of the Word. I believe that in most Presbyterian churches if you disagree on, let’s say, the way to baptize someone, I might get corrected or shunned in this community because I believe you need to be submerged rather than to be sprinkled by water or vice-versa. The same goes with non-Christian relationships. For example, if I were to have a relationship with a homosexual man who’s lifestyle I do not agree with, I would probably do either of the two: try to convert this person or break the relationship. By doing this it shows that I never actually loved this person but had an agenda the whole time; that if it doesn’t work out then I shouldn’t be friends with such a sinner. Denominationalism encourages deep relationships with people we agree with and when we are in a relationship with others that do not have our views, we try to convert them to our way of thinking which we believe is always “God’s way” of thinking.
When Pentecostalism grew we believed that our belief system was the only correct one because God was using us so mightily. We were speaking in tongues, casting out demons, praying for the sick, etc. People get this wrong way of thinking that because they are being used by God, therefore we have the right belief system and God only loves us. In some Catholic circles Holy Spirit fell on them and they began to speak in tongues, cast out demons, and pray for the sick. Obviously there are huge differences in belief systems between Catholics and Protestants but the power of Holy Spirit fell on both. So it’s not about what we believe that causes Holy Spirit to move, it’s about our genuine relationship with Him. Denominationalism puts Christians inside a box that binds them to ever having lasting and loving relationships with others totally different from themselves. If we are called to love others, this way of thinking will not help.
In the New Testament there were constant arguments between the Apostles on who was right. Paul and Barnabas split up because of difference of opinion. Also Paul and James disagreed at first regarding circumcision. There are many cases of disagreements in the Bible yet God still used each and every one of them for His glory. They never saw each other as enemies or shunned each other, but were united in the Spirit. Being united in the Spirit means to flow together with Holy Spirit and do what He wants us to do together. We might not agree on evangelism styles, but we are united in the Spirit because we are both evangelizing, our hearts are one with Jesus because we both want to see the lost saved. That’s what it’s like to be united in Spirit, recognizing that we don’t know it all but we have a common goal given to us by Holy Spirit that unites us. Thus, it’s important as Christians to understand that it’s not about being united in Word but to always strive to be united in Spirit.