United in Christ

Postmodern thought, post Christian culture, and inter-faith dialogue.
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This forum is for Christians to dialogue about non-denominational and inter-denominational issues including various Christian doctrines, canon law, and praxis.

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bareskin73
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United in Christ

Unread postby bareskin73 » Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:31 pm

A few months ago I told David that I would post this message that I gave at the 2008 Midwest Christian Nudist Convocation. I had forgotten about it but recently remembered to post it here so here it is.

Daniel

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United in Christ. That's something that we as Christians need to be doing, but just what is it to be united in Christ? Why is it important that we know what it means? How should we as Christians relate to one another if we are united? How would the world see us if we as Christians put away our petty differences of opinions and really became united in Christ. A united front, to become one with a purpose, and that purpose is the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Lets break apart the term "United in Christ" to find out just what it means.
According to the Merrium-Webster dictonary found on the internet "United" means the following:
Main Entry: united Function: adjective Date: circa 1552
1 : made one : combined
2 : relating to or produced by joint action <a united effort>
3 : being in agreement : harmonious <a united family>
So as we can see by these definitions is that united is to become as one, to be harmonious, as if all that are united are in fact one. Lets look at a chior, they have many members, many tones and voices, but everyone is singing the same song, and every tone and voice complements the others, it's as if they have only one voice among such a great number of people. But a chior doesn't get to be harmonious overnight. All the members must come together fequently and sing together and get instruction from their leader. Oh, a leader, you mean that the unity heard in a chior doesn't come without a leader? Of course not. Without the leader guiding each individual won't preform as their talents and gifting allows. Without that indiviual guiding you end up with some of the most beautiful voices not realizing their full potential, while other voices are just so overbearing that they are unpleasent.

Ever seen the movie "Sister Act"? Near the beginning of this movie there is a nun's chior with an unskilled leader that pretty much lets the chior member do whatever they want, yes they happen to be singing the same song, but they are not in tune, some voices are very overbearing while others can't be heard at all. In comes the actor Woppie Goldberg, she is sent to the convent under the witness protection program, she was a leader of a show in Reno, Nevada when she witnessed a horrible crime. The "sister" played by Woppie didn't want to be there, or have anything to do with the chior at first. But the sisters found out that she had a musical background and elected her to be their leader. In the matter of just a few weeks she lead that mixed up chior from sounding like they was singing in several different keys at once, to a beautiful harmonious chior that had gotten the attention of the Pope in the movie. Although this is a fictional story, it holds a lesson for us today, If we as Christians are going to be united and harmonious we must each be following the directions of the fully qualified chior leader. In our case as Christians, that is no other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Sure, pastors can guide us to the Lord, but if your trusting in your pastor to be your chior leader, then the chior that you'll be singing in will sound much like the nun's chior did in the beginging. The pastor, may be our leader, but he still needs training himself. Pastors are human just like us, so they will make mistakes and occationally have their doctern all mixed up, so let him teach, but check everything he says against the Word of God and follow Jesus.

Now that I'm back from that rabbit trail about the chior, you have an idea of what united is, but we're not there yet. United is more than just singing the same song and in tune with everyone else. To be united with your brother you must both have the same objective, purpose, motive, and inspiration. What is it that we as Christians are doing anyway? What are we suppoed to be doing? Did not Christ say "go into all the world preaching the Gospel"? Are we singing the same song when it comes to reaching the lost? Sadly, we're too busy arguing amongst ourselves about how best to spread the Word (that is if we even care) to hear our leader tell us that he's trying to give us the tools needed for the job. Nobody is hearing the master. He gave a command, but we started arguing about doctern and phylosiphy before he had a chance to tell us how we're going to accomplish this command. What a loose nut bunch we Christians are. Are we really content to sing out of tune with the rest of the chior members? Look around the Christian world, what are we doing? From what I can see from the inside is we are too busy arguing with each other over the color of a song book or how we should dress, or how long our hair is, or what version of the Bible is the most acurate to even be slightly concerned about obeying our master. There is no unity in the Church as a whole right now, yes there is in some congregations, but those are few and far between. Jesus prayed that we would become one, why? Because he knew the heart of man, that we are always trying to influence another to our way of thinking, which would cause division. There is an influence we all need to heed to, and that is the influence of our Lord Jesus Christ. All other voices causes division and confusion. Are we all united in thinking as Christ thinks? None of us are, but how many of you pray, study, desire to think just like your master does? It is my prayer, that Christs thoughts become my thoughts, that his passion, becomes my passion, his compassion, becomes my compassion, his ministry becomes my ministry. It is my prayer that I become more united with Christ every day. I want it so that when someone looks at me, that they see Christ and not me, may I become one with Christ.

I think that we've got a handle of what united means now, I just took the past several moments to tell you that united means to become one, but not just to be in agreement, but to be as though we really are one, sharing the same passion and drive. Now lets move on to Christ.

Christ, defining him sufficiently would take us several days or weeks, so where I'm going to take us is to discuss why he came. Why did He say that he came to live amoung us? For the son of man is come to seek and save that which was lost. Luke 19:10

But why did he need to do that? "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way" Isa 53:6a

So whats the purpose of seeking and saving the lost, just what is the objective? For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. Rom 5:10

The word reconcile means to restore a friendship. So this means that we now have a relationship with God through Christ. So the purpose of Christ is to renew a relationship with His creation. That is why He came and lived amoung us. So for the purpose of defining the term "United with Christ", Christ can be defined as a relationship with God. So to be united in Christ we must become one in developing our friendship with our Creator, our Father, our God.

If our friendship with God has been restored, and we currently have a relationship with the Father, what then should we do?

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2Ti 2:15

Pray without ceasing. 1Th 5:17

If we are united in Christ, does this mean that we should always be in prayer and studing with our brothers and sisters in Christ? YES But lets be careful here, we are to study with our brothers, helping them to rightly divide the word of truth for themselves. Our job isn't to correct their theology, that is the Holy Spirit's job. We are simply to learn with our brothers and sisters as we continue to learn how to divide the word of truth. It's also our job to pray for them, not so that they will change to our way of thinking, but so that they will listen to God's direction.

None of us come from the same experiences. We come from many different backgrounds and traditions, yet we make up one Church.

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Ephesians 4:4-6

One purpose of the Church is so that we can help each other in developing that relationship with our Lord that we need and desire. That is why you see the early Church going house to house in prayer meetings. I'm here to tell you that they was doing alot more than just praying and studying God's Word. They was involved in being one in developing a right relationship with their God and Saviour, something that we do to little of in todays Christian society. When we come together as a Church so that we can as one develope our relationship with Christ, it is an expression of love that we have for our God and each other.

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil 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 vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Philippians 2:1-3

Why is all this important? Why is it important to be united in Christ? To answer that I will not answer myself, but let the Word of God speak for itself.

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

1 Corinthians 1:10-31 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Now I'd like to discuss what this would look like to the outside world. Just what would it look like if we was truely "United in Christ" and showed love toward one another?

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:34, 35

But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 1Th 4:9

On four occations Paul told the believers to greet one another with a holy kiss. For the longest time I just assumed that it was just a cultural practice, but I now realize that it is a command of showing our love for our fellow Christians so that the world will see that we truely do have love one for another. Thereby wanting what we have. It is a non-verbal witnessing tool.

(At this point there was be group discussions)

In closing I'd like to leave you with the following scripture from Romans 5:10-21

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification. For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Rom 5:10-21)

musicmonkey
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Re: United in Christ

Unread postby musicmonkey » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:17 pm

Thanks for that Daniel. It's such a long post that I think I need to respond to snippets at a time.

You asked some good questions:

What is it to be united in Christ?
How should we as Christians relate to one another if we are united?
What is it that we as Christians are doing anyway?
What are we supposed to be doing?
Did not Christ say "go into all the world preaching the Gospel"?
Are we all united in thinking as Christ thinks?
How many of you pray, study, desire to think just like your master does?

I like the choir and choir director analogy and yes, a choir does not become harmonious without frequent practice and good instruction. I agree that a pastor can guide us but that he still needs training himself and we need to check everything he says against the Word of God and follow Jesus. I want others to see Christ and not me too. I pray about this sometimes when I am heading off to meet with somebody. I also agree that it's the Holy Spirit's job to correct the theology of our brothers and sisters, we are to pray for them (not so that they will change to our way of thinking, but so that they will listen to God's direction), encourage them and love them.

These are great verses:

"Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." - Philippians 2:3

"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;" - 1 Corinthians 1:27

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." - John 13:35

Interesting thought on greeting one another with a holy kiss as a non-verbal tool demonstrating our love. My Quebec friends, male and female, kiss me on both cheeks.

bareskin73
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Re: United in Christ

Unread postby bareskin73 » Sat Mar 21, 2009 7:54 pm

One thing that I thought of today that didn't make it into the choir analogy (because I didn't think of it at the time I was putting this together and/or presenting it) is that even though the choir members come together to practice, each one must also practice their individual parts privately as well if they ae going to be the best they can be. Each individual choir member must know what he or she is doing even without the choir director giving directions before there is a presentation to the community. Meaning, we must each one of us pray, study God's Word, develope our own personal relationship with our Savior to be presentable to our Father. Which brings me back to the Scripture that says;

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2Ti 2:15

During the discussion period there was a number of greeting styles discussed and the message that each portrayed. First of all was the kiss, which many that attended thought that men shouldn't be a part of because they might 'look' gay if they did. (Personally, I don't understand that fear nor am I willing for what is good to be a definition of gay. But I digress.) We also discussed the simple hand shake, which is pretty impersonal and doesn't show any sign of love because even enimies shake hands on occation. We also discussed the hug, which shows some emotional caring for the person. But lastly, we talked about the long embrace, or the hug that last awhile. It was agreed that this embrace is a gesture that really displayed love one for another. I relayed some about a church that I used to attend where it was common for the guys to embrace and pray over each other as they greeted and said farewell. A very truely loving gesture between brothers, the sisters did this as well between themselves, but only simple hugs when done with opposing genders (for obvious reasons) I will still do this even though I no longer go to that church.

Daniel

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Re: United in Christ

Unread postby musicmonkey » Sat Mar 21, 2009 9:07 pm

You mention the verse in 2nd Timothy about "rightly dividing the word of truth". I think this is almost impossible to do. On one end of the spectrum of Christendom you have the law and on the other you have grace. I find that most Christians tend to sway heavily in one of either direction and most conversations I have with Christians tend to be one of us trying to change to the other to our way of thinking. It gets so exhausting for me that I have all but given up on most discussions with other believers except for a very small handful that are able to walk the fine line between law and grace.

I think at the bigger picture of all of this is our upbringing and the role models (or lackthereof) we had growing up. I think that we can show love to one another in many ways.... from speaking Truth... to kisses, handshakes, and hugs.... and also by showing genuine concern for another, despite bridges burned or our busy distracting lives.

There are different types of love found in the Greek language and I'd like to point out a distinction between philia and agape:

"Philia, in the widest sense, is well named 'social sympathy' - we find this among animals as well as humans. Philia, in the narrower sense, refers to human friendships. There can be equal philia and unequal philia... Although philia is wonderful, it is held captive by the sifting sands of situation as well as by ours and other's perceptions and expectations. Unfortunately, we probably all know of a friendship which waned or was severed because of time, distance, harsh words, how someone interpreted another's actions, etc.... The best friendship is based on the good, on virtue. Such friendships are rare, since such men are few. Persons who are good and alike in virtue; each wish the other well for the other's own sake. Such friendship is mutual (or reciprocal) and must be mutually recognized and it seems relatively permanent. Such friends desire to spend time together and share their life. Such friends are good-tempered and pleasant." - Philia: A bond that's not easily broken

I believe that true Christlike love is agape love. It gives 100%, 100% of the time, even to the unresponsive. So for me, to be united in Christ is to pursue agape love to my family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, strangers, and even my enemies. It is not easy to consistently make an effort to love the unresponsive. I know we are called to do so, but it often leaves me feeling a sense of despair and hopelessness when self-professed believers are unresponsive or hold grudges towards me.


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