“Building Vital Relationships with God, Each Other and the World”



Christian Unity and Solidarity





Unity


Shortly before He went to the cross, Jesus prayed for unity among His followers: “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11).


Later in the same prayer, Jesus asked “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us. . . . I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity” (John 17:21–23). Obviously, Christian unity is important to our Lord.


Jesus not only prayed for unity, but He gave the reasons that Christian unity is important: He asked that all believers may be in the Father and the Son, “so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21). And then Jesus prayed for “complete unity” so that “the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (verse 23). When Christians are united in Christ, the world sees two things clearly: Jesus was sent by the Father, and Jesus loves His church.


In Romans 15:5–6, we see another, more general reason that Christian unity is important: “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”. The bottom line is God’s glory. God’s people should be speaking with one voice in glorifying God.


Christian unity comes with Christian maturity, and it is always something that we strive to attain. Paul instructs us to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). Helping us toward that unity are the gifts of the Spirit. God has given each Christian different gifts, and their exercise in the edification of the church leads to more and more unity. One purpose of the gifts is that “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” (Ephesians 4:13).


To promote Christian unity, God presents the church in 1 Corinthians 12:12–27 as a living body. The body has many members, each with specialized work to do, but all the parts are united in the Head of the Body, which is Christ (see Ephesians 4:15).


Christians naturally form local communities in which no one needs to rejoice or suffer alone (Romans 12:15 1 Corinthians 12:26). Christians from many different backgrounds working in unity display the power of the gospel and the universality of its saving message (Galatians 3:26–28). Christians bring honor to God’s name by pursuing unity in the power of the Holy Spirit who brings us together as one through faith in Christ.


Christian unity is a virtue, but there are some things that can and should limit unity. We don’t pursue unity simply for the sake of unity it is Christ and His truth that unite us. Scripturally, we are to separate from professed brothers and sisters in Christ who live in persistent, unrepentant sin (Matthew 18:15–17 1 Corinthians 5:1–2) and from those who teach false doctrine (Revelation 2:14–15). “Watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them” (Romans 16:17).


As Ephesians 4:13 intimates, we won’t reach full Christian unity until we attain “to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” So, we probably won’t fully realize Christian unity in this world. But we strive for it. The unity that faith in Christ brings extends God’s love on earth and demonstrates the truth of who Jesus is. Unity in the church also foreshadows the worship in heaven, where a great multitude “from every nation, tribe, people and language” stands before God and cries out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9–10).


Solidarity


Solidarity is unity or agreement among individuals who have a common interest. Teams, clubs, and organizations are built upon the solidarity of their members. We create solidarity when we gravitate toward groups of people who think or believe as we do. Solidarity gives us emotional support and companionship when we connect with like-minded people. Solidarity also allows us to work together for common goals so that we accomplish more than any single individual can. Christian solidarity is a major theme of the New Testament (Romans 15:5–6 Philippians 2:2).


In Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer, He asked that His followers would demonstrate solidarity to the world: “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me” (John 17:21). Our solidarity and love for each other demonstrate God’s love to the world. Christian solidarity should arise from our adherence to Jesus’ teachings and the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27 see also Ephesians 4:4–6).


Local churches should also strive for solidarity among their members. Peter urged believers to be “like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble” (1 Peter 3:8). A lack of solidarity is damaging: “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:15). Paul explained how to maintain solidarity with fellow believers. Philippians 2:2–4 says, “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” When a church practices godly solidarity, it is a mighty force for good in the community and in the world.


The only time solidarity is destructive is when the unity is centered on an evil goal or ideology. Terrorists may experience a measure of solidarity, but their unity stems from shared hatred. That is not a solidarity that God can honor. At the Tower of Babel, people were in solidarity with each other, but it became evil as they used it to disobey God and worship their own achievements (Genesis 11:1–9). God destroyed their solidarity because they misused its purpose.


Psalm 133:1 says, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” God created the world to be a place of beauty, harmony, and unbroken fellowship with Him. His desire is for us to live together harmoniously. Romans 12:8 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Because of sin, reaching that goal is not always possible. We are never to compromise with sin in order to get along (Acts 5:29), but, in every other way, Christians should be models of solidarity. The Bible commands us to love and evangelize the unsaved so that they may one day join our solidarity as fellow believers (Luke 6:27 Romans 12:20).


We, in the Order of the Most Holy Mary Theotokos, are in fact and in law, an autonomous group of people. Although our roots are in the Catholic monastic experience, we have been nourished by other traditions as well and are in spiritual unity and solidarity with many Christian faith communities and individuals. However, we are not affiliated with, nor under the spiritual umbrella of any particular denomination or jurisdiction.


There are a variety of ways in which we can share our faith and experience in spiritual unity and solidarity with like-minded fellow believers which does not necessitate entering into any type of formal or written full or intercommunion concordat or agreement.





"You are no longer strangers or foreigners, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of the household of God." —Ephesians 2:19. God invites us to join hands and to walk together in unity and solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ.


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