Unity Amid Differences

Ephesians 4:3

endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3)

JP: John Piper with some practical teaching on Ephesians 4:3. See additional thoughts by Bob Bixby below. See my final comments at the bottom.

What I Said to the Pastoral Staff About Unity Amid Differences

Excerpts:

Six Biblical Guidelines for Loving Each Other Amid Differences

  1. Let’s avoid gossiping.
  2. Let’s identify evidences of grace in each other and speak them to each other and about each other.
  3. Let’s speak criticism directly to each other if we feel the need to speak to others about it.
  4. Let’s look for, and assume, the best motive in the other’s viewpoint, especially when we disagree.
  5. Think often of the magnificent things we hold in common.
  6. Let’s be more amazed that we are forgiven than that we are right. And in that way, let’s shape our relationships by the gospel.

Read full blog post here

Pastor Bob Bixby on “Unity and Unanimity are Not the Same Thing”. Bob is the Pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church

Picture this with me.

My wife and I have enjoyed great unity over the past thirteen years, so we decide to celebrate that unity and love by going to a pricey restaurant that provides a classy, candle-lit romantic atmosphere. Love is in the air, unity oozes from our pores. We are in love. Just as we have been for nearly fifteen years. As the maitre-de hands us our menus, I am suddenly psychologically seized by an unspoken concept of unity that has been ingrained in my Fundamentalist psyche. This unity, I panic, must be preserved by a high maintenance of total agreement on everything! So, I insist that my wife order what I order: fish. She doesn’t like fish, never has. I discern a little tension in her face and her voice tightens ever so slightly as she humbly objects. But – and I feel reluctant – I must fight for “the faith”! I insist that I won’t really believe that we are having a romantic date unless we are doing every thing exactly the same. She requests, then, that I order chicken instead which I won’t do because I’m not about to spend beaucoup money on something I can get at home all the time. Suddenly our unity is disrupted because I am insisting on unanimity.

Any marriage counselor would advise me that there must be some give and take if we are to keep our marriage alive. Do we really need to eat exactly the same thing? It is true that there must be some things that are on the we-must-be-unanimous list. Obviously. But happy is the couple with a shorter list! Most mature couples would not expand the list requiring unanimity to include anything as inane as food. Mature couples not only do not have a long list of necessary unanimity, but they enjoy the differences!

My fictional dinner date describes what actually occurs in some troubled marriages. Immature people cannot always discern the importance of distinguishing unanimity from unity in their marriage. The same is true for all inter-human relations, including the local church and movements such as Fundamentalism.

Unanimity is described as the state of being of one mind in a duplicative sense. Unity is described as a state of harmony. I don’t believe that the many injunctions in the Bible calling for the body to be of “one mind” are intended to be understood as a command to be unanimous. There is no group in existence that can possibly enjoy perfect harmony (unity) while perfectly agreed, mentally and emotionally, on every subject (unanimity) except for the Trinity. My wife and I enjoy great unity, but – hello! – we are not unanimous on every thing!

JP: Bixby’s full article is available here.

Final comments: Obviously we should never compromise essential truths of the Word of God for unity! Image above is copyrighted.

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