Monday, December 19, 2005

Incarnational Unity

I've been thinking about Christian unity. One conclusion that I've been driven to by my experiences is that God's unity is beyond and more than human endeavors.

I say this because if the reality of godly unity were only known through experience, I would struggle to affirm its existence at all. The existence to which I could attest would only be that it is fleeting, easily disrupted by human agendas, and not very powerful in transforming our world. If unity has to do with the presence of God's reign, practical observation would lead me to question whether the Kingdom is near.

So I am convinced that unity does not exist only with our experience of it, but even when we fail to embrace it, live it, see it, or understand it. Christian unity is a spiritual reality despite our historical realities.

I also know the dangers of simply spiritualizing something, making it ethereal and intangible, so as to justify its non-existence in so much of our communal living out of faith. That is an easy path to take - excuse our failure by claiming unity has no Monday morning or Friday night meanings.

This is why I find myself wanting to talk about Christian unity as being incarnational - of God beyond history, and yet of God in history.

When I experience so little living out of unity in faith, I am reminded that the reality of unity is not proved by experience. However, I am called to relentlessly pursue the practice of particularized unity, historical unity, in everyday living unity . . . and so the unity which is beyond history is also historical. Our unity is a tension even as Jesus, God-as-man, is the tension of the beyond history and historical flesh and blood.

3 comments:

Ken Haynes said...

Thanks for the thoughts....remembering that there is more going on beyond my experience encourages me to actualize our God given unity even more...

postmodernegro said...

Greg,

I came by your church on Christmas morning. I kind of figured you guys might not be having services. Sorry I missed you guys. Next time I am in town I will be swinging by. You guys worship not too far from where I graduated from high school, Hoover High...but it was Berry High back then. I graduated there back in 91'. Hope to see you guys soon.

pax

steve said...

Dear Greg,

glad to see you are still pursuing unity in Christ, even as we used to find it on the porch after a tennis game in Mwanza. Still love Paul Hiebert's concept of center-set Christianity. Yet it is amazing that even things that are supposed to be signs of unity - like filling with the spirit or speaking in tongues become boundary markers instead of unifiers. In Christ there is no us and them (Luke 4) only US!