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An Exhortation on Christian Unity

As believers mature in Christ they learn to appreciate the diversity of giftedness within the body of Christ. Unity among the mature becomes centered around the manifold revelation of Christ and the fulfilling of His purposes by applying the Bible to life. These are naturally related as Jesus said, "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." (John 14:21)

However, such diversity often is seen as a threat to the immature. Immature believers of like giftedness and personality will gather together like pillars of salt and simply conform their definition of Biblical Christianity to their particular lifestyle and characteristics, rather than deriving their concept of the Christian life from the Bible. In order to keep a sense of "unity" they try to limit any diversity in the vertical and horizontal direction. For example, the immature Thinkers will demand the Feelers to give up their feelings and become thinkers before they are considered worthy of fellowship. Similarly, those who are obscessed with their own subjective "feelings" about Christ demand the thinkers to get out of their minds and give up their thinking before they are considered worthy of their fellowship. Thus there is a horizontal pressure between these two and all who lie in between.

Immature believers tend to divide over non-application oriented issues. Predestination versus free will is an example of an issue which divides Calvinist Thinkers and Charismatic Feelers, for example. And there are many such issues as methods of baptism, creationism vs. theistic evolution, ecclesiology, details concerning the end times, and so forth. But as believers mature in Christ, they focus more upon real- life applications of the Bible. They focus on what is their purpose and responsibility in life according to the Bible. They define Christ more based upon the Bible. And rather than subjectively conforming a "Christ" to their own image, they conform themselves to the Biblical Christ. Inevitably, since there is only one Biblical Christ, the doers of the Word become more and more like each other as they approach His likeness, while retaining the diversity of their giftedness. For the Bible has one interpretation, but many applications.

Notice also that the distance between an immature "feeler" and a "thinker" is the same as between the feeler and a mature "doer". Thus just as there is pressure and conflict between the feeler and thinker, so there is conflict between the feeler and the doer, as there is also between the thinker and the doer. But the upwards pressure is for edification, as one experiences it growing up in a family. Parents will always put pressure on their children to mature, but at the same time discourage sibling rivalry - the horizontal conflicts.

As I mentioned, immature groups will discourage horizontal diversity. But they will also discourage vertical diversity. That is, they will discourage maturity. For maturity will bring out just as much "conflict" from an immature point of view, as horizontial diversity. Thus, many churches discourage believers from maturing in Christ. They suppress believers from exercising their spiritual gifts. Or they only allow such within the limits of the particular giftedness of that group.

One technique churches use to discourage the edification of the believers is to make an elitist division between "clery" and "laity". Among the "Thinkers", you will have churches which have a simply a lecture format in which the Christian life for the "laity" consists simply of sitting and listening to lectures given by the professional elite clery. Among the "Feelers", maturity is equated with the release of one's inhibitions. One is discouraged from thinking. Serious Bible study may be considered too theoretical or even legalistic as is serious application of the Bible. Applications are limited to the expression of one's emotions or simply to "flag-waving" symbolic issues as also with the immature thinkers. And childlike humility is equated with behaving in an immature childish manner.

Rather, let us appreciate the diversity of giftedness and personality that exists in the body of Christ, while encouraging maturity. For, "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." (Eph 4:11-13)

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