Unity and Diversity
Published 31 July 2012
The true Church has always been reformed from within and when it is reformed it is always a true expression of what it was in the beginning. It always reverts to type. The Church will always find its unity in the Holy Spirit.
To break away from the Church, either actively in arrogance, or passively in indifference, breaches unity. To break away from a part of the Church, (a denomination) because of issues of truth and love, may well be an action of unity.
Because the Church has always lived and functioned in a hostile environment, it continually reforms towards its true unity. Luther called this the Babylonian captivity of the Church, which required the true Church to throw its chains off and being true to the Scriptures, reform itself after the teaching of Christ. Most of the denominations in existence today, are the remnant of historic ruptures, the process of finding the truth and maintaining true unity, albeit with pain.
Today, the variety and number of Churches, is not proof of disunity necessarily, any more than a monolithic, medieval papal Church was proof of unity.
Proof of unity is holding to the once revealed apostolic testimony to the Lord Jesus Christ, walking and practising His supreme command to the Church, to love as He loves us.
Unity of the Churches is not found in diversity. Diversity rightly belongs to the way of life of the open society and the secular State, which we see in our Western democracies. But, the quality of this diversity, depends upon the unity of the Church within it, which sustains its quality. To quote a Nigerian Bishop interviewed on ABC Religion Report: "The Church is there to sanitise society. If the Church fails to do that, that Church is corrupt and has no reason to exist. When people turn away from the teaching of Jesus Christ, that is corruption and it is more pernicious than poverty". The unity of the Church is in its preaching of the Gospel and its practice. To quote the Bishop again, "It is when the Church fails to preach the Gospel, that corruption will pervade society."
The Church is not called to mirror the diversity of the world. It isn't called to catch up with the political correctness and social configurations, led by lobby groups. It is mandated to keep the unity of the Holy Spirit, to protect society and enable society to enjoy a healthy diversity.
If the Church absorbs the worlds ways of gossip, reviling, suing, distrust, sexual promiscuities, unnatural relationships, it corrupts its own heart. Its dignity bleeds and its power to restrain evil is lost.
This is how we should understand our calling as part of the true Church. Let us search for the Spirit, hear His voice today, meet regularly, encourage each other daily, realising that each one of us has a unique role in building up the Body, from which flows the Law of Love and from which shines Truth. We have a high calling, an important role to play in our generation. Today we don't need more knowledge and more products, so much, as more depth of Gospel understanding and more practice of its ways.