Our book discussion on Finding Church continues with chapter 17: Unity Without Conformity. This is one of my favorite chapters, because most people cannot imagine a unity of the church that does not come from manipulating political and institutional structures to get people to do what is right. But conformity will never produce the wholehearted unity that Jesus prayed for his Father to give us. That kind of unity only comes out of transformed hearts and lives where the glory of God has come to in habits a human vessel, and that vessel connects with others so that the temple rises across the whole planet showing the principalities and powers that God is able to take selfish humans and knit them into a powerful demonstration of his splendor.
Doesn’t that make obvious the sad legacy of factionalism that our multiple denominations in the world creates? That’s all institutions can do, unfortunately, but Jesus has a much better plan. He’s not trying to bring about a unity of structure, but a unity borne of love that crosses all our human boundaries.
This chapter looks at how unity can only appear through transformation, and how Father and Son accomplish that in his Church by a work of the Spirit.
Excerpt from Chapter 1:
The power of the church lies in the unity they find together—men and women loving and working together wholeheartedly because they have found their life and joy in him instead of their own preferences and ideas. How could any conformity-based system produce this unity when people are following the expectations of others rather than living out of an ever-expanding heart? Without that, real unity cannot exist. (p. 154)
Jesus didn’t pray for conformity, but a unity that can only arise out of lives transformed by his glory. The answer to this prayer fulfills God’s passion in the earth and by it the world will know that the Father loves us as much as he loves his Jesus. When people out of diverse backgrounds come to complete unity of heart, purpose, and focus, God is unveiled in a way nothing else can accomplish. (p. 155)
You can find the discussion board here and see the list of topics we’ve covered. You can start at Chapter 1 and work your way through, or just join us in Chapter 17.