By Kelly Carr
This statement (or variations of it) has been attributed to a number of people. But no matter who first said it, the spirit of its message has been powerful over the years. In fact, it has had quite an influence over the Christian churches/churches of Christ in the Restoration Movement.
Plan for Unity
Whether you are working with family members, friends, coworkers, or fellow community volunteers, they are going to differ with you on some detail—even people who share your ideology or theology. No two people think exactly alike. (You see this in your daily life, even when it’s as small as figuring out what everyone wants for dinner!) God created us each uniquely, and we can capitalize on what we have in common and learn from each other’s differences.
One must plan in advance how to stay unified. The above statement, then, is an excellent outline to maintain peace when working together. First, decide that you should agree on the large, overarching essential matters. Second, know that you are going to each have different opinions on smaller matters—agree to listen to one another and maintain respect for one another when you disagree. Third, practice loving-kindness in both times of agreement and disagreement.
These seem to be great principles for all areas of our lives.
In our next three issues, we’re going to break down this statement into three parts and look closely at how we can put into practice the concepts of essentials, opinions, and love in our churches.
Around 15 years ago The Lookout put together a special issue called Simply Christians that focused on the Restoration Movement’s roots, strengths, and longevity.
Professor Robin Underhill shared his desire to pass this heritage on to new generations:
“People are attracted to congregations that are committed to being ‘Christians only,’ and they appreciate biblical authority for the church’s doctrines and practices.
“The historic plea of the Restoration Movement is still as attractive as Jesus’ prayer for the unity of his disciples in John 17.
“While many churches are reaching ‘seekers,’ some older members are concerned about changes that seem to downplay the historic strengths of the movement. I, too, have concerns, but I am encouraged to see that members of the next generation appreciate the ideas and emphases of the Restoration Movement. . . .
“In a world of religious division, spiritual confusion, and competing theologies, it is not only possible to be just a Christian—it is preferable. An emphasis on unity and biblical authority is refreshing to the frustrated seeker. We enjoy a heritage of biblical preaching at a time when the next generation is hungry for the truth. Preaching the Bible is still effective. It will always be effective. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are personally meaningful and teach the gospel incredibly well to a generation that wants to experience something special with God.”
To read more about the history of the Christian churches/churches of Christ and why people remain passionate about our movement, you can purchase a digital copy of Simply Christians. For $9.99 you can download and duplicate unlimited copies for yourself and your congregation.