Editor Jul 29 : 11:51
It is an amazing and awe-inspiring thing to read in Acts 2:42-47 about the fellowship of believers.
It is an amazing and awe-inspiring thing to read in Acts 2:42-47 about the fellowship of believers. Life experience teaches us how difficult, some may rightly say, how impossible it is to experience true unity in this world, and so when one truly appreciates the miracle of the fellowship of believers’ relationship with one another a tearful response is almost inevitable.
There is much to be impressed with here. What stands out to me most, at first, from a cursory reading of Acts 2, is how giving the believers were to one another and how much they enjoyed one another’s company. The devotion to their faith as evidence through prayer and scripture reading and evangelism is equally impressive, but what, after years of reflection and communion with present day believers, is more miraculous and almost unbelievable than these things is summed up for me in one word—UNITY.
What is unity and why is that so miraculous to me given that seemingly greater things were going on in the first century church? On one level unity can be identified as believers meeting together for a church service. Unity can be viewed as a congregation being given a challenge to study the Bible with someone and on the whole doing so. As a great friend of mine pointed out recently: she was urged to pray on a field in the middle of her college campus and, as an act of unity, did so despite her embarrassment. These may or may not be signs of unity, but at the heart of real unity is the truth expressed in Philippians 2:1-2 where Paul tells the believers to be “like-minded” and “one in spirit and purpose.” Please try not to, through familiarity, overlook or underestimate the power and difficulty of the challenge of like-mindedness and oneness in spirit. Outward signs of unity may be deceptive if the believers who join together, pray together, share together, give contribution together, sing together, and take communion together are not of like minds and ONE in spirit and purpose.
ONE in Spirit.
What would that look like? What does that mean? The closest thing I’ve seen that resembles this oneness in mind and spirit personally is my relationship with my wife and with a brother of mine in Christ. What is it about these two relationships that exemplify true unity?
Ask me my opinion about any topic under the sun that has any spiritual implication whatsoever and I guarantee you my wife and the aforementioned brother will have the same view, position and opinion as I do. Any topic under the sun.
In the church I have taken written and verbal surveys and found people I consider believers to have a difference of opinion and conviction as me on issues paramount to the Christian faith. Issues pertaining to homosexuality, the obligation of people to earn what they eat, abortion, dating non-believers, war, and many other issues the Spirit gives us insight as well as plain instruction on. On some occasions their doctrine on an issue was accurate to Scripture but the application of these to real life was far removed. These are not matters I consider of little significance to our faith or permissible differences; they are a division in spirit. Truth be told where we differ on such issues, and many others not mentioned here, we differ in heart and that difference means that in matters of sin and righteousness, heaven and hell, someone is wrong and someone is right; the implications of such a truth is obvious. We can not allow ourselves to accept these differences in our faith. They must be spoken about and worked out in a pursuit for truth as was done by the first century believers who consulted with the leaders in the church for direction and spiritual insight into the issues of their day and awaited letters addressing them.
So, what does divergence about unity have to do with the CR tradition of Eternal Fellowship? Well to put it plainly: a fellowship, as God lays it out, is not a fellowship without the unity of spirit and like-mindedness commanded of us. In CR we are devoted to Total Recovery which entails an openness about the way we think about everything. We are holding each other Accountable to viewing all things through God’s eyes. We are not allowing each other to compartmentalize our faith; to have a doctrine that is godly and not a life that matches that doctrine across the board. The sick thinking that allows us to use and abuse drugs is often dealt with first, but if that sick thinking exists in how we view work or government or voting or gay marriage or Islam, then are we not bound to the same fate as the active drug user? We are not a one-dimensional group merely interested in the immediacy of people not using drugs, rather we are interested, as the tradition suggests, in fellowshipping with each other throughout eternity in heaven. Jesus says that whatever is bound on earth (through unity and faith in him) will be bound in heaven. Only believers one in mind and spirit about the things of the spirit will enjoy the privilege of an eternal fellowship which we must begin here on earth in order to continue on in heaven. In CR we find out what’s in the heart in an effort to help each other become more like Christ. This transformation into the likeness of Jesus is what brings us all the more closer to true unity and an Eternal Fellowship.