Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Disunity and the mind of Christ

This is the eleventh post in a chain blog on "Dealing with Traditionally Divisive Issues," started by Alan Knox. At the bottom of this post you'll find links to the other posts in the chain blog.

In John 17, Jesus prays that his followers would be one. Anyone who takes even a cursory look at the church today would realize that those who claim to follow Jesus are not one. The body of Christ is divided into groups based on any number of doctrinal differences, and possibly an equal number number of practices. Churches that may agree on doctrine and practice are sometimes divided over relationship problems. I believe that part of the answer to the divisiveness in the church today is found in Philippians 2.

As different denominations and groups have grown up over the centuries, they have usually been built on distinctive doctrines or differences in organization. Dallas Willard calls these things vessels which hold the treasure which we have been given. The treasure is Jesus, and the problems come when our focus gets off the treasure and onto the vessel. Philippians 2 puts the focus back on the treasure and exhorts us to have the same mind as Christ. Paul bases this exhortation on the mercy, love and encouragement that we have in Christ through his Spirit.

What does it mean to have the mind of Christ? Paul tells us that Jesus did not consider his glory and position as something to be used for his own purposes.When he came to this earth, he didn't come with fanfare as a conquering king. He humbled himself and came as a helpless baby born to a working class couple from a nothing town. As Jesus went through his life, he didn't force the disciples to do what he said, nor did he lord it over the folks he came in contact with on a daily basis. At the end of his time here, he did the work of a common household slave and washed his disciples' feet! Then, this one that we rightly proclaim as King of kings allowed a kingdom of this world to put him to death. Unfortunately, this doesn't sound like some leaders in the church today.
Before Paul gives us the example of Christ, he exhorts the church to be like minded, having the same love. This comes from doing nothing for our own selfish ambition or empty conceit. Instead, we are to humbly value others above ourselves and seek to advance their interests rather than our own. This is exactly what Jesus did. He loved. He did the things he did for the glory of his Father and the good of others. He did nothing out of selfish ambition.

There are valid reasons to separate, but most of the divisiveness in the church today has been caused by losing our focus on the treasure and focusing on the vessel, whether that vessel is doctrine, practice, or our own heart. What would the church look like if we each sought to have the same mind as Christ, if each of us put others first, humbled ourselves, and did what we did for the benefit of others? I would love to see that.

Chain blog rules:

1) If you would like to write the next blog post (link) in this chain, leave a comment stating that you would like to do so. If someone else has already requested to write the next link, then please wait for that blog post and leave a comment there requesting to write the following link.

2) Feel free to leave comments here and discuss items in this blog post without taking part in the actual “chain”. Your comments and discussion are very important in this chain blog.

3) When you write a link in this chain, please reply in the comments of the previous post to let everyone know that your link is ready. Also, please try to keep an updated list of links in the chain at the bottom of your post, and please include these rules at the bottom of your post.


“Links” in this chain blog:

1. “Chain Blog: Dealing with Divisive Issues Introduction” by Alan
2. “Chain Blog: Dealing with divisive issues starts with love” by Arthur
3. “I am divisive” by Jeremy
4. “Chain Blog: Please agree with me” by Jon
5. “Division and our shared humanity” by Andy
6. “Chain Blog: solving the problem” by Bobby
7. “Divisiveness: Acts 2 & Ugly Carpet” by fallenpastor
8. “Stimulating our Collective Memory” by Trista
9. “No, we can’t just get along” by Alan
10. “Who says we are divided?” by Jon
11. Who will write the next “link” post in the chain?

9 comments:

Alan Knox said...

Fred,

This is a great post and a great addition to the chain blog! Thanks!

I agree that this is key: "There are valid reasons to separate, but most of the divisiveness in the church today has been caused by losing our focus on the treasure and focusing on the vessel, whether that vessel is doctrine, practice, or our own heart."

People can unite around anyone and anything, but the church will be one only when we unite around Jesus Christ alone.

-Alan

co_heir said...

"People can unite around anyone and anything, but the church will be one only when we unite around Jesus Christ alone."

So true. I'm becoming more and more convinced that if we are all about Jesus the other stuff will be taken care of.

Jeremy Myers said...

Great addition to the chain blog. Thanks.

It is so true that if we focus on Christ, unity results, but when we focus on the vessel, or the trappings, of church, we get disunity.

Thanks!

Jonathan said...

Appreciated your addition to the conversation.

"Before Paul gives us the example of Christ, he exhorts the church to be like minded, having the same love. This comes from doing nothing for our own selfish ambition or empty conceit. Instead, we are to humbly value others above ourselves and seek to advance their interests rather than our own."

Great advice when dealing with divisive topics. Easier said than done as most of us tend to be selfish beings. Yet we must accept it is God's will that we truly love one another.

God bless!

co_heir said...

Jeremy, you're welcome. Thanks for the comment.

Jonathan, Loving each other can often be the hardest thing we do, but as you said, it is God's will.

Andy Witt said...

Thanks for insight! This whole conversation is moving along so well.

I've written the next chain, called "We Are United in our Division" at
http://www.andywittonline.com/?p=890

Andy

co_heir said...

Looking forward to reading it!

Tammy Carter said...

amazing post! so much division sometimes it drives me crazy. keep our eyes on Him. I think people "fear" to have their feet washed. It means they might just have to forgive or realize servanthood.

co_heir said...

Tammy, you're right. Sometimes it is harder to allow people to love us because it requires us to swallow our pride.

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