Unity through ________________ (Fill in the Blank)
Dennis L. Shaver
Men, who consider themselves religious, have devised many ways in which believers in Christ can be united. The cry is "unity," "unity." And yet, the ways of unity devised by man can never accomplish the oneness for which Christ prayed in Jn. 17:20-23. Because men are so concerned with "false unity," they have rejected "true unity," which can be obtained through God's way. All one has to do is fill in the blank at the top of this article, and he has devised yet another way for "unity." Although there are many different schemes to attain "false unity," there are two we hear more often than riot.
Unity Through Diversity
The definition of diversity is: "1. the state of being diverse, dissimilitude. 2. Variety; a diversity of interests. synonyms: change, difference" (Funk and Wagnalls p. 372, Vol. I). A major denominational group started this kind of thinking long ago, but now it is considered "fashionable" and "keeping up," to adopt such reasoning. The trick with this kind of unity is to accept everything about nothing, or anything about everything. It is really the same old denominational song of "it doesn't make any difference" being put into practice. All denominations used to say it does not make any difference, but not all really believed it. Now, they are practicing what they have been preaching. This type of reasoning can produce union, but it will never produce unity. If Solomon were alive today he would say of such reasoning: "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. 16:25).
Unity Through Love
Brotherhood and love for all people will supposedly conquer all differences-especially religious ones. Those who profess unity through love act as though love has magical powers in causing differences to disappear. This "false unity" actually hides differences in a cloud of "false love." It is an easy way out of proving what you believe is what the Bible teaches. When you love someone (as they define love) you will not tell him when he is wrong, and you will never bring up any differences you have; even if you feel strongly about them. Through this form of "false unity" one is never called upon to defend his particular doctrine. One thing we must say for this form of "false unity," it is very convenient. Especially is this true for those who teach and practice things without authority from God's word. The best thing this type of reasoning will produce is a surface love. It will not produce love that is needed to obtain "true unity." As the prophet of God, Jeremiah said: "O, Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jer. 10:23).
Unity through Truth
Now here is a novel way. Unity through truth. It has not been tried, but it is the only way unity will be attained. There can be no unity where there is no truth. Someone might ask, "Why hasn't this way been tried?" Because this is the way God provided and man always tries his way first. "For my thoughts are not as your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa. 55:8,9). This is a much quoted, but little understood passage of Scripture. Man is determined to put his thinking and reasoning above the ways and thoughts of God. Until man gives up his "false unity" ideas, there can be no "true unity" for which Christ prayed.
To accept unity through truth, all religious denominations, and even some of our own brethren, would have to give up their unscriptural creeds and practices and unite upon the word of God, the Bible. I am afraid however, that they do not desire unity. What they really want is a way to go ahead and do what they want without anyone calling them into question for a "thus saith the Lord." A truce is what they want, and not unity. There will never be unity as long as each different group teaches its own doctrine and does "its own thing" in rebellion against God. The apostle Paul declares, "Now I beseech you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye. all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1 Cor. 1:10).
The Corinthians had the same problem as those in denominations, and even some of our brethren, do today-a desire to be true to some organization rather than true to God's word. Until men give up this attitude, "unity" will never be attained. Unity cannot be accomplished until every individual decides that he wants unity and he is willing to give up whatever he must in order to have it.
The apostle Peter declared, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God . . . " (1 Pet. 4:11). Of course this would mean giving up such things as instrumental music, sponsoring churches, fellowship halls, youth recreations financed by the church, etc. Why? Because none of these practices, and many more, are unauthorized by God's word. Their authority is "Where did God say not to?" Such cannot be our plea if we are to be united through truth.
Only by accepting God's word as truth (Jno. 8:32; 17:17), our guide (2 Tim. 3:16,17; Psa. 119:105), and our standard for unity and authority (2 Pet. 1:3; Jno. 12:48; Matt. 28:18), can we be truly "united." Until all men will accept truth as the basis for unity, there can be no unity. Truth will not allow compromise. "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Eph. 4:36).
This is God's plan and way for unity-unity through truth. We must all desire unity because Christ prayed for it. However, we cannot allow this desire for unity cause us to compromise or minimize truth. Yes, we desire unity, but only on God's terms.
Truth Magazine XIX: 50, pp. 791-792