Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Steps to Relational Unity

Alan Knox started a chain blog on Real Relationship Unity and the first bloggers did a beautiful job of sharing what Christian unity is - simply put - it is finding unity in Christ alone.  I will try to add to the conversation by breaking down a little more what that means.

I have found that what God is trying to do in our individual lives parallels what God is doing corporately in His Church.  If change always happens from the inside - out and one person at a time, then it makes sense that God unifies His Church by molding hearts one at a time.  And I believe the most effective way He molds hearts is through relationships.

The first step in having relational unity is understanding that I am not perfect. I have to acknowledge that I have strengths and I have weaknesses.

Step two is understanding that God is purposeful in who He puts in our lives.  God molds our hearts by shedding His light on our strengths & weaknesses and He does that best in close honest relationships with others that are different from us.  God purposefully puts people closest to us that are very different from us for a specific reason.

Step three is understanding that although God uses us in each other's lives, it is not our job to focus on other's weaknesses but instead, focus on their strengths.  This is also known as love.  Bringing out the best in others, focusing on Christ in them (the strengths God gifted them with) is a form of love.   God molds us in relationships not when we try to teach each other (aka focusing on or pointing out other's weaknesses) but by having an open heart and looking for the best in each other.  And when we see the best in others, there is always something to learn from that strength in them.  We all instinctively know that God wants to use us in each other's lives, so it is an easy trap to fall into to try to focus on correcting & changing others.  Instead, like everything else in our spiritual walk, we have to surrender what is in our nature and trust and allow God to do His work while we do the humbling (as in being humbled, being humble).

So if we understand we are not perfect, that God is sovereign and deliberately wants us to be around people who are different from us and that He desires us to have an open heart to see what we can learn from others.... then we are ready for relational unity.

If all 3 of these steps are followed, then I do believe we will build each other up in Christ.  And when individuals are built up in Christ - the strengths of each individuals come together to form into Jesus' *perfect* personality.

If instead we do opposite of these 3 steps, we will have relationship division & disaster.  If we think we are superior in knowledge, personality, insight or understanding and don't have anything to learn from others...If we think it is always our job to choose who we want to hang out with (which in our nature, we will always pick people that make us comfortable because they are like us)....And if we are always try to teach others and change others, then our differences will always be central and the focus of our relationship and nobody will grow.  We will not be able to build each other up.... and what is then seen corporately is all the weaknesses lifted up...which does not represent our perfect Jesus. :(

Each of these steps I wrote about on an individual level can be applied corporately.  Denominations, just like individual personalities, have strengths & weaknesses.  Every single one of them!  No organization is perfect just like no individual is perfect.  No theologian is perfect. Nothing and nobody is perfect --- but together, all our strengths are being built up and point to the One who is perfect.   Our strengths ARE Jesus living through us! Amazing!!

I do believe relational unity with extreme diversity is always possible, and not only possible, but it is God's design for us.   God did not gift any one person with all possible strengths.  God did not gift any denomination/group with all possible revelation/insight.  God did not gift any set of people with all possible passions & strengths.  But ALL those strengths together are all perfect, like our Lord!  The strengths of everything fit together perfectly... in a balanced crazy paradox. We can have unity across denominations, theological differences, generations, socioeconomic status and among individual personalities.

This post is getting too long.... but I would love to write another post on specifically what unity among different personalities looks like.

This blog sounds a lot like a blog I just wrote not too long ago on personalities.
The Personality of the Body

Thanks for letting me share!!

Chain blog rules:
1) If you would like to write the next blog post (link) in this chain, leave a comment stating that you would like to do so. If someone else has already requested to write the next link, then please wait for that blog post and leave a comment there requesting to write the following link.
2) Feel free to leave comments here and discuss items in this blog post without taking part in the actual “chain.” Your comments and discussion are very important in this chain blog (both on this post and the other link posts in the chain).
3) When you write a link in this chain, please reply in the comments of the previous post to let everyone know that your link is ready. Also, please try to keep an updated list of links in the chain at the bottom of your post, and please include these rules at the bottom of your post.

“Links” in the “Real Relational Unity” chain blog:

1. “Chain Blog: Real Relational Unity” by Alan
2. “The Treasure of Unity ‘in’ our Relationships” by Jim
3. “So The World May Know – Observations on the Road to Unity” by Christopher
4. “Christian Unity – What it is and What it’s not” by Nathan
5. “Steps to Relational Unity” by Randi
6. “Learn to Live or Live to Learn” by Greg
7. “The Limits on Unity” by Arthur
8. “Joints of Supply” by David
9. “Some Examples of Real Relational Unity” by Alan
10. “An Example of Relational Unity” by Greg
11. “Relational Unity Begins at Home” by Kathleen
12. Who will write the 12th link post in the chain?


Alan Knox said...


Thank you for taking part in this chain blog! I love that you said we are READY for relational unity after those three steps. The three steps are like a prelude for relational unity.

Could you do a few things for me? Could you include the "chain blog rules" in your post so that others now how to participate? Also, could you include the links to the other posts in the chain blog? Finally, would you leave a link in the comments of the previous post (Nathan's post) so that everyone knows that you wrote this one? Thank you very much!


Randi Jo :) said...

got it, thank you!!

Greg Gamble said...

Whew! I go away for a few days and return to find some of the best writing Ive read in years, on one of the least considered aspects of our life together.
I feel like my post is going to be preaching to the converted.
On the other hand, my family and I remind one another constantly, that if we dont like the way things are, to be the first one to change.
After 40 yrs knowing the Lord, every time I do is like the first time. Just as costly, and just as liberating.
So, I'll take the next post, unless Jeremy is ready?

Jim Puntney said...

Randi, this is such an enriching portion to the unity chain. Thank so much for your the wisdom, and love expressed here.

Jim Puntney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Randi Jo :) said...

Thank you all so much. This is such a great topic. I was convicted today as I wrote this about some areas I really need to work on in prepping my heart for unity. <3

I am challenged & encouraged by each of your blogs on this, thanks for letting me be apart!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Three steps to relational unity. I love the importance of focussing on strengths - encouraging that in others and it all being about love. Wonderful post Randi, keep up the good work!

Greg Gamble said...

Been busy and just now getting to read the posts after mine, which is here, and is in the #6 spot. http://oneanotherdaily.blogspot.ca/2013/04/learn-to-live-or-live-to-learn-does.html
I wish there was a way to get these to a wider reading audience, because when I talk with folks about how many church and personal problems either go away or have the hard edges softened, I get blank looks.
These posts are exactly the filler material, providing context, using everyday language that many hungry brethren are seeking.
Has anyone ever heard a pastor speak like this from the pulpit?
Are there publications that might accept articles for print, on this subject?
blessings all

Randi Jo :) said...

It IS encouraging to see God working in other's hearts the exact same ways He is working in our own, right?


Kathleen Ward said...

Hi Randi, great post.

I completely agree with your statement; "the most effective way God molds hearts is through relationships". I think that's why his instructions to us are both vertical (us & God) and horizontal (each other). True faith is not just some personal thing between me and God - he placed me on earth, with people all around me, and the best way I can love Him is by loving others.


- Kathleen

Randi Jo :) said...

Thanks so much Kathleen. :) I just found your blog and added it to me list to read! How have I not seen it before? I'm sure we've crossed paths at Alan's. :) Have a beautiful 1st day of May! <3

Jeremy Myers said...

I love the three steps toward unity. Very helpful. Especially that third one. Focusing on other's strengths instead of their weaknesses is key to growing in love and unity with others.

I also recently joined the chain blog and added my own link: http://www.tillhecomes.org/christian-unity/

Randi Jo :) said...

Thank yoU! :)