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Published Date: May 2, 2010

Published Date: May 2, 2010

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Should We Divide over Perspective on Gender and Service?

All Scripture is from TNIV, with my underlining.

John 17:22-23  (Jesus speaking) 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. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

1Co 12:20-25  As it is, there are many parts, but one body.  The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.

Eph 4:1-3  As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:9-13 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions   He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until 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.

As a believer in Jesus, I understand the above verses to say that Jesus desires all believers to be in unity, that God desires there be no division in the body of Christ, and that I am to do my best to maintain the unity of the Spirit and work towards attaining the unity in the faith.  I look around and see division in the body of Christ and it saddens me, especially as unity would be such a witness to the world.  However, as I study various subjects and learn more, I sometimes end up changing my beliefs about what God wants from me based on what the Bible says in context.  What should I do about the call to unity?  Here are some suggestions:

1. Love all believers, according to Jesus, this is THE mark of a disciple.  John 13:34-35.

2. Be humble and do not think you know it all. 1 Cor. 13:12.

3. Live in the freedom you have in Christ.  For example, one can live a partnership marriage of full equality even if a church you attend teaches otherwise.

4. Be willing to explain with gentleness and love why you understand some Bible texts as you do.

5. Realize that congregations and denominations can change their understandings, but it may take time.  God may have placed you in a congregation as an agent of change.

6. Decline to declare that others that do not agree with you are outside the faith, except in matters of salvation itself.

7. Salvation is defined by the work of Christ and his victories which we inherit through faith in Jesus. Thus the body of Christ consists of those who embrace the gospel, and are therefore your brothers and sisters in Christ.

8. Realize that God is working in each of us and we are to help each other.

What other ideas do readers have that help maintain the unity of the Spirit until we achieve the unity in the faith?

–Don Johnson