The Hard Work of Christian Unity

Romanticism and Idealism Hinder the Work of Unity

Stephen Crosby

There’s an old saying that if we ever saw sausage being made, we would never eat sausage! Saying you favor Christian unity is like saying you love sausage.  Anyone can wax eloquent about the philosophical virtues of ideal sausage. The question is, do you have the stomach for the process of making sausage? Yielding to the processes of God that will actually yield John 17 Christian unity rather than cheap counterfeits is an entirely different matter than agreeing about the eternal priority of unity. How unity is defined, implemented, and embracing its cost will separate sausage lovers from sausage producers. God has called us to produce sausage, not just rhetorically extol its virtues. It is not for the faint of heart.

Too often unity is defined emotionally, psychologically, and culturally rather than biblically. There can be a mindset that if we could just recover some imagined idyllic condition of the first one hundred years of the Church, or if we were just “nicer” to each other, that we would have unity and revival. Here are a few snapshots of the “ideal” first century church: Read More…

20 CONTRASTS BETWEEN THE BOX CHURCH AND THE KINGDOM-CENTERED CHURCH

Ever since the fourth century, when the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity legal, the church progressively went from a decentralized “saints” movement to a temple-centered “clergy-dependent” movement. We went from focusing on marketplace presence to building elaborate cathedrals with clergy-led rituals. We went from people “being the church” to people “going to church”. I call the latter mentality “the box church”.

This clergy/laity divide and emphasis with a ritual-centered approach in a building has been a challenge not only in the past but also in the present. (Even though our evangelical rituals now have more pizzazz.) Consequently, the leaders of the church held a monopoly upon things sacred, which kept the “holy elite” in power and wealthy. The sad thing is similar concepts are still prevalent in the church today. Read More…

7 CONTRASTS BETWEEN UNITY AND ONENESS

I have been involved in numerous local, city and national initiatives related to the body of Christ. Often, our mantra circles around the term “we need unity in the body of Christ.”

While that is a good start, it should not be the end game for the church. In John 17:20-23, Jesus’s prayer for the church is that we would be one.

The kind of oneness He was speaking about was akin to the ontological oneness Jesus and the Father had with one another. The Old Testament counterpart to this passage is found in Deuteronomy 6:4, where it says, “the Lord is our God. The Lord is one!” This was not mere unity but a oneness in purpose, essence, mind, heart and passion, which exceeds mere organizational and institutional unity. A lack of oneness in the body of Christ is the reason why we can have hundreds of national prayer rallies without experiencing the results we seek. Read More…

THE “TOP TEN” REASONS WHY CHRISTIANS SHOULD BE WORKING TOGETHER IN THEIR CITY

What you are about to read may be new to your understanding about the way Christians are supposed to do “church” and live out their Christianity. Most of what you are about to read will not be taught in the typical local church or Theological Seminary. Most Bible Colleges and Seminaries exist to only emphasize their distinctiveness. In effect they are there to teach why they are different than the other teaching institutions across the country. This isn’t all bad, but it is also not all good. We will show you why in a moment.

We will show you Biblical truth that heretofore hasn’t been taught with the preeminence that the Bible teaches it. We will also try to explain along the way why it isn’t readily taught by most of our current leaders. We do this with the hope of removing the religious and psychological barriers hindering the advancing Church of Jesus Christ. Hang on, this is a road less traveled.  It is a little bumpy, but you are going to love the view.  Read More…

“THE WEAKEST LINK” IN BECOMING ONE HOLY CATHOLIC APOSTOLIC CHURCH

After working with ministry leaders over the last 25 years I believe that we must address the “weakest link” in our efforts to see the prayer of Jesus for us becoming “One” in our communities. If the Gospel of the kingdom is to become a functional reality we need the courage to recognize and repair this weak link. It’s not the theological differences one might suspect that separate us. It’s something more difficult to recognize and deal with.

Before we get to the number one weakest link, let’s look at what some leading thinkers commonly consider are the top five. Read More…

BELIEVING AND BELONGING – NT WRIGHT

The river and the tree appear to be opposites. The river begins, quite literally, all over the place. A tiny spring way up in the hills; a distant lake, itself fed by streams; a melting glacier—all of them and a thousand more contribute to the babble and rush of water, the smooth flow here and the swirling rapids there. Gradually other streams, other whole rivers, make their contribution. Out of many there emerges the one. I lived for a time by the banks of the Ottawa River in Canada, just upstream from where it joins the St. Lawrence. It is, at that point, over a mile wide. Many streams have made it what it is. Read More…

WE ARE JESUS CHRIST REGIONAL HOSPITAL

As believers from different camps continue to work together as never before, I find it helpful to use the following analogy whenever misunderstandings do arise. Sometimes we divide over our lack of understanding about how the Lord gifted us and our ministry houses. The Lord gave to the Church those with apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, pastoral and teaching graces to bring the Body of Christ to health and maturity. We humans can be down on what we are not up on. In my book “Working Together for Jesus” I use the analogy of a hospital to help believers see Christ’s Kingdom in operation in their town. Just as in the natural realm we can see that each of the different ministries is necessary to heal the lost and hurting of our world. Follow me as we spend a day at Jesus Christ Regional Hospital in your local city. Read More…

ORTHODOXY ACCORDING TO JESUS

According to Jesus Himself the world would only recognize we were authentic followers of His by our love for one another and our Oneness with God and each other. Did Jesus know something about the cynical nature of our time? Did He know that the culture would grow cold and would need to see true love before they would believe Jesus was sent by God? Or is it true that in spite of all the religious jargon we use, people know when they see a sham and when they are witnessing authentic Christian love and unity … the kind that is a foretaste of heaven? Read More…

THREE BLIND MEN, AN ELEPHANT AND “BIG THEOLOGY”

Perhaps one of the biggest reoccurring blind spots we Christians deal with is the certainty we have about the part of God that we do understand. We sometimes insist on forcing the Scriptures to fit the worldview given to us by our “first” teachers. We end up reading what we believe instead of believing what we read in the Bible.

In my book “Roadkill Seminary” I state that we ironically have to be delivered from our commitment to the Christian religion in order to more fully discover the person of Jesus Christ. This realization often only comes through prolonged and difficult trials of the soul. Read More…