Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chain Blog: solving the problem

I've been tooling around with some ideas on how to contribute to the chain of blogs set forth by Alan Knox on the topic of division.  There have already been five great posts in the chain.  Be sure to check them out, there's some really good stuff going down.

“Links” in this chain blog:
This is the sixth post in the chain and I know more are coming.

  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.

So that's how we do this thing and now its time to make this chain a little longer.

If we want to solve the division problem it is important to ask ourselves the question: "what is the opposite of division?" Many of the previous writers in the chain have alluded to unity as being the goal and opposite of division. I agree that division is a tool of our nemesis to prevent the unity of the church. Yet, as I read what was written to the churches in the NT, what I see is that unity is something we already have in Christ. We are to hold on to it, it is ours already. It's not something we have to work for, but something we have to be mindful of. Christ prayed for it in the garden and with the coming of the Holy Spirit I believe it has been given. If then, we are already united in Christ, why are we still divided? And how do we overcome that division and walk in unity?

Well, my answer is rooted in what I do everyday: math. Yep, in my mathematics riddled mind the opposite of division is multipilication. I know that thought seems pretty whacked, even coming from me but before you go gettin' all technical on me, check out how it clicks in my noggin.  There are several good answers to the question like faith, humility and love along with many practical ways to keep the gospel of Christ crucified at the center of any disagreement but I'm gonna stick with the math angle because I think weird.

Consider this: if we work hard with our focus and efforts aimed at unity with one another, what is the result? We eventually reach our goal of unity. YAY!  But as I said in the beginning, I believe unity has already been granted, it is something we already have in Christ and our job is to walk in it by faith.  There is a huge difference between trying to make something happen by our own strength, our knowledge of right and wrong (good and evil) and living by the divine life in hope of the promises already secured for us in Christ.  With that faith as our starting point where should our focus be? On our great commission!  Now doesn't that put just the slightest kink in the chain?!  What can I say?  I'm a rebel.

This is where the math comes in. Instead of focusing on how to be unified we can focus on the work set before us. We are free to turn the world upside down. We rest in the finished work of Christ and bring others into that rest. With multiplication as our factor and Christ as our sum we are no longer too busy solving the division problems that have already been solved. The secondary issues and personal preferences fade into the background. The fractions are broken down and we establish that the least common denominator is Christ. We rightly see how we are various shapes and sizes but are members of one whole. The variables in the equation are all solved and we find that all the X's and Y's are changed into numbers being added to the kingdom.  Math:  it"s like the divine order of all things.

We must see ourselves as we are in Christ and move on from there. We are different members united into one body, a new man. All this striving to get to the starting line means we haven't even begun to run the race. It's impossible to finish well in a race we haven't begun.

So, how do we attain unity? We can't, Christ prayed for that for us and it has been granted through his indwelling.  We can continue to pray like Paul did for the church in Rome
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:5-7 ESV)
What is the opposite of division?  Multiplication.  So let's get back to work doing what God created us to do and follow the instructions he gave before the fall
 “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Or in the words of Jesus
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)


  1. Bobby,

    Very interesting take on the solution to the problem. I agree that we already have unity in Christ - as long as we look for it in Christ. But, I do think that is another part of the problem: people are trying to unite on something or someone other than Christ. (And, I don't think you'll disagree with me on that.)

    Once we get that out of the way (unity is found only in Christ), then I think you are definitely on to something!


  2. Loved your post. Here's the next post in the conversation:

  3. I love the math logic. I think what you are saying fits with a follow-up post I made where I also concluded unity is something that already exists. As followers of Christ we need to have our eyes open to that reality as we build relationships with others.

    Just because the institutions are divided, it doesn't mean the church (people of God) are. Many may just be blinded to that reality.

    Ray... another post to read, great... but I gotta run to work.

  4. Interesting take on the subject.

    So we are to accept by faith that we are unified in Christ, but don't actually see it or achieve it in experience?

    I definitely think Jesus is the starting point, but I would hope that we actually achieve some practical unity as a result.

  5. As soon as you asked the question, "what's the opposite of division" I went straight down the path you did: math and the great commission. What a delightfully logical way to look at the problem! Well done.

  6. Alan,

    I completely agree with you. Even evangelism can be one of those things we can unite in and still not see ourselves as fully united in Christ.

  7. Jon,

    I do think that our unity already exists, we just aren't walking in it. Were too busy advancing our own pet doctrines or causes instead of advancing the gospel of Christ and him crucified.

  8. Jeremy,

    to answer your question I think that if we saw ourselves as united with one another in Christ we would walk in it. It would be achieved and experienced. Trying to do this in some practical manner is how we got into the mess were in today with all the denominations, membership covenants, creeds and confessions.

    It would do us no good to be united in some historical idea of Jesus without the living, abiding power of his person working through each of us to remain united. That's what I mean by saying we are already united in him. When we abide in him, there is no division, only fruit.

  9. Trista,

    good to know I'm not the only weird one ;) thanks for the encouragement.

  10. Bobby

    Like your reasoning - opposit of division is multiplication. :-)
    And like your reasoning when you say...
    “unity is something we already have in Christ.”

    I would add - the focus to me in John 17 is becoming “ONE.”
    NOT unity... Oy Vey!!! Am I being divisive? :-(

    And, Gal 3:28 says, when we are “in Christ” we are “ONE.”
    NOT unified... I know... I think wierd also...

    Could being “ONE” be something greater then “Unity?” ;-)

    That they all may be “ONE;” as thou, Father, art in me,
    and I in thee, that they also may be “ONE” in us:
    that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
    John 17:21

    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free,
    there is neither male nor female:
    for ye are all “ONE” in Christ Jesus.
    Gal 3:28

    Does that verse say male and female are equal?
    Or, does it say, male and female do not exist? ;-)

    I like to believe; When we are “in Christ”
    we are “ONE” and - This does NOT exist either.

    Neither Baptist nor Assemblies of God.
    Neither Evangelical nor Pentecostal.
    Neither Leaders nor Followers.
    Neither Clergy nor Laity.
    All brethren. Mat 23:8-10.
    All “ONE” in Christ Jesus.

    Could being “ONE” be something greater then “Unity?”

    I like God’s math too - a lot... ;-)

  11. A,

    very interesting. What do you think the difference between unity and being "one" is?

  12. Bobby

    Not quite sure, don't have anything definite, still searching.
    BUT, I'm seeing and thinking there is more to "ONE"
    then a single digit or unity.

    Like... “ONE” day I noticed "ONE" of God's names is "ONE."

    And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day
    shall there be "ONE" LORD, and **his name "ONE."**
    Zechariah 14:9

    This “ONE” in Heb. is echad. Seems to denote a plural “ONE.”

    Echad - from Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.

    Echad stresses unity while recognizing diversity
    within that ONEness.

    So, “ONE” can refer to, a single diget, a blend, a name, and...?

    Jud 20:1
    Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation
    was gathered together as “ONE” man...

    Like this verse.
    Does it mean a single something, a blend, a name?

    Did they gather and look like only 1 single man?
    Did they gather and all move together the same way?
    Did they gather together as “God’s” man?

    Eph 2:15 make in himself of twain “ONE” new man...

    Mat 19:5
    ...and the two shall become “ONE” flesh.

    Just some thoughts... Just something to question...

    Like the opposit of division is multiplication
    and if we concentrate on multiplication
    we no longer see division.

    Very open to and would appreciate additional thoughts... :-)

  13. I've published the 9th link post in the chain blog here: "No, we can't just get along."



As in a biblical church gathering, my word is not complete or final. Participation is allowed, encouraged and expected. Please, don't leave without adding something.