This past Wednesday, I had the opportunity to “pinch-hit” at the last moment in teaching a Bible study. I was given about 2.5 hours to prepare. Or course, I taught on the concept of biblical unity among believers. While I didn’t give the Bible study a name, if I had, it would have been, “The Forgotten Layer of Unity.”
What is this “forgotten layer?” To answer that, let me state the layers that are not only remembered, but also taught and emphasized greatly. The first layer is at the small group level of a congregation. If a local congregation has a small group ministry, those groups are encouraged to do things together, which promotes unity in the group. The second layer is at the congregational level. It is often taught in various settings on multiple occasions that it is extremely important for a congregation to be united.
It is good that these 2 layers of unity are taught and emphasized, for they are biblical. But what is either forgotten or intentionally ignored or dismissed is the layer of unity of believers that is above the unity at the congregational layer. What is that layer? It is the unity of the believers in a local community or region. And it was this layer that was the focus of this Bible study lesson that I taught this past Wednesday night.
In Part 2 of this topic, I will get into how I believe the Bible teaches the importance and necessity of this community layer of unity among believers and how doing things to cause division is actually wrong, but for now, let me state some of the reasons why unity among believers in a local community is either ignored or separation is intentionally caused:
- worship style/music preference
- governing paradigm
- philosophy of ministry
- a stance on a cultural issue
- competition/survival of a congregation
I’m sure there are others, but I’ll stop the list there. But whatever the reason, it should not be used to divide believers on the community level. More on that in Part 2.