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Three Perspectives on unity in the Body of Christ


"Positional, Relational, Functional"


Dear Friend, below are some more of my thoughts on the subject of unity in the Body of Christ.  I present them here to stimulate your thinking on the subject.  I am not trying to say this is the sum of the discussion on unity!  Nor am I sharing these thoughts with you as infallible.  God is infallible, His Word is infallible, but my understanding and my intellectual capacities are NOT infallible.   On this basis, I humbly offer you these thoughts for your consideration.  Your feedback would be appreciated. 


God bless, Jerry Johnson


Positional Unity


And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.  John 17:11  (KJV)


The phrase, "those whom thou hast given me" points to the unmerited favor of God bestowed on His children which places us "in Him" positionally.  All born again believers are partakers of this expression of unity.  This is the foundation of all that follows in the development of unity in the Body of Christ.  Note that in each case here of harmonious growth, the appeal is to God, this is His work among us and in us.  Note also that "unity" is not "sameness," in the sense that we are robots; unity is all of us (with our God-given diversity and uniqueness) in harmonious coexistence with one Father, one Savior, one indwelling Spirit, one purpose, one Leader, one heart, one mind, etc.


For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.  For the body is not one member, but many.  ICorinthians 12:12-14  (KJV)


Relational Unity


Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 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 17:20-21 (KJV)


The words, "as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us" suggests to me a unity of inter-relationship in which we are not just "theologically" unified (speaking from a "natural" point of view, from the perspective of the world looking on), but Christ is here praying that we be harmoniously engaged with each other and with Him in relationship that is witnessed by the world.  And the focus of this entreaty to the Father is not just for the "Eleven" but for all who subsequently come into the Family of God through faith.


If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.  Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;...  Philippians 2:1-4, 14-15  (KJV)


Functional Unity


And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.  John 17:22-23  (KJV)


With the use of the concept of "glory" (with all else this word implies) it seems that there is a visible manifestation pointed to, such a visible glory that the world would know that Jesus is the Christ, and that God loves His Church as He loved Jesus.  And the idea of "perfect in one" speaks to maturity or completeness--moving our personal relationships of love in the Body of Christ into good works before the world, works consistent with that love.  To me this indicates a tangible, functional, demonstrated unity in Christ shown through our actions, our working together, and our evident loving attitudes toward each other, toward God and toward the that they would KNOW and reflect that "glory" back to God in praise and love! 


For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:10  (KJV) 


Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  Matthew 5:16  (KJV)


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