Archive for April 4th, 2009

During Lent, I have been preaching about Christian unity in my church (mostly from 1 Corinthians, although this week is from Ephesians 4). We have also read a book called Together Again by Bob Russell and Rick Atchley. It is a short book, but a good book that seeks to help, in part, heal the ginormous rift that existed in so-called Restoration Movement churches. At the root of our division has been the issue of instrumental music; no small rift I assure you. I believe it took an enormous amount of courage for these two preachers of the Gospel, from opposites sides of the proverbial keyboard, to write this book and I have benefited greatly from their wisdom.

But I think there can be a wider application of their work in the broader, wider body of Christ. Here, then, is how they conclude their work:

Often the reason we struggle to accept those who disagree with us is that we are hesitant to accept the radical implications of God’s grace. It is difficult to set aside our pride and admit it is by grace we are saved, not by moral or theological perfection. ‘Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God’ (wrote Paul in Romans 15:7).

We are saved by Christ, not correctness. If that’s true, then we can accept someone whose doctrine isn’t perfectly aligned with ours. Someone said, ‘If we spent more time at the cross of Jesus, we would spend less time being cross with each other!’ Let’s accept that a man doesn’t have to be my twin brother. Let’s admit that none of us has achieved doctrinal perfection, and let’s be thankful that we’re saved by grace.

[...]

We can’t manufacture unity. We can’t transform people’s lives. We can’t save the world. But Jesus Christ can. If we will just lift him up, if we will just speak the truth with a humble, loving spirit, he will draw all men to himself and we will be one in him. (121-122, 123)

So this is yet another word on the grace of God. (I’m trying to find 100,000 ways to say we are saved by grace. I’m up to about 20-25.) I stand amazed at the grace and power of God to bring us together as one people in Christ. Let us all work together to see the church, the greater church, brought together under the headship and banner of Christ, united together in the bond of peace, transformed by the grace of God, and growing and building ourselves up, together, in love.

Be blessed in him. Praise be to God for his indescribable gift.

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Commenting on Jesus’ miracle of raising the dead son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17), Todd Hunter writes:

‘God is back, looking to the needs of his people!’ And the news spread. This is how the rule and reign of God out to be experienced among us today. Caring for the needs of others is what I have in mind, not just the spectacular part about the boy’s resuscitation. I like the thought of others experiencing Christianity ‘for their good.’ But because of two dynamics, Christianity is seldom seen as being good for others. First, many Christians believe that our relationship with God is a private matter–just between Jesus and me. Second, when we do extend our beliefs into the public sphere, we are noted for nagging, for being judgmental, argumentative or holier than thou. But we see neither of these in Jesus.” –Todd D Hunter, Christianity Beyond Belief, 112-113

Yes. I do believe Mr Hunter is correct here. I can tell you from first hand experience that this type (the self-centered, judgmental type) of ‘christianity’ simply must die.  And, to be sure, I believe it will.

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