Unity, Diversity, and Belhar

6 Feb

I just wanted to share some of my notes on a verse in Jesus’ high priestly prayer that has stood out to me:

…that they may all be one even as we are one.

To be one as the Trinity is one is to be one in essence but many in being.  I find that to be a nice way of understanding the nature of those who make up the body of Christ, the Church.

What this allows for is a great deal of diversity in the midst of the uniting essence of being God’s covenant people in Christ.  This diversity is meant to represent God (glorify Him), the Gospel, and show the world the love of God for His people and the love shared by His people (witness).

Therefore, this diversity should not divide people in ways that detract from, or fail to magnify, the unique and powerful love of God, a love shared by believers in Christ.  Diversity, when properly understood and embraced, serves to build up the body and better equip the saints for the good works God has prepared for them.  Each person brings his or her gifts, talents, and abilities to serve the common good of the body, each one serving his or her role, just as the persons of the Trinity serve one another in their specific roles to the glory of the Godhead.

In the midst of all this, I cannot help but think of the Belhar Confession, the way in which it promotes diversity, as well as unity.  Particularly, I enjoy reading this lengthy quote from Article 2, which states this about the unity of the Church:

“We believe that Christ’s work of reconciliation is made manifest in the Church as the community of believers who have been reconciled with God and with one another…that this unity of the people of God must be manifested and be active in a variety of ways: in that we love one another; that we experience, practice, and pursue community with one another; that we are obligated to give ourselves willingly and joyfully to be of benefit and blessing to one another; that we share one faith, have one calling, are of one soul and one mind; have one God and Father, are filled with one Spirit, are baptised with one baptism, eat of one bread and drink of one cup, confess one Name, are obedient to one Lord, work for one cause, and share one hope; together come to know the height and the breadth and the depth of the love of Christ; together are built up to the stature of Christ, to the new humanity; together know and bear one another’s burdens, thereby fulfilling the law of Christ that we need one another and upbuild one another, admonishing and comforting one another; that we suffer with one another for the sake of righteousness; pray together; together serve God in the world; and together fight against all which may threaten or hinder this unity…that the variety of spiritual gifts, opportunities, backgrounds, convictions, as well as the various languages and cultures, are by virtue of the reconciliation in Christ, opportunities for mutual service and enrichment within the one visible people of God…”

Unity and Diversity.  May we, the body of Christ, both globally and locally, be filled with both.

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