Hey all, this is Stephen...
I still remember the moment in Iraq like it was yesterday. It happened so fast yet it will remain with me the rest of my life. I'm not talking about a roadside bomb or an ambush but instead, a meeting.
It was very early in the morning and I had spent much of the night searching semi-trucks. I happened to be searching the cab of one man's truck when I found a very worn leather bound book. All of the writing on the outside was worn so I opened it up. Much to my astonishment it appeared to be exactly what I thought it looked like...a Bible. I pulled aside the Kurdish-Iraqi man probably in his late 50's or early 60's who drove the truck and asked him what this book I had found was. He told me in broken English that he was a Christian and this book was a Bible. I was shocked! He was the first local Christian I had run into. I told him that I was also a Christian and that I had recognized his book so I wanted to meet him and ask for sure if it was a Bible. This elderly man (67.9 is the average life expectancy) began to cry and then he did something I did not expect. He bear hugged me and he said to me in broken English, "It has been so long since I have met another Christian!" This truly is one of the most memorable moments of my life. I shared a moment with a fellow brother in Christ that I will probably never see again this side of heaven. I know it is very possible that he was a Catholic and just as likely that he was a Syriac Christian (these are the two major Christian branches in Iraq). I have doctrinal differences with both branches but at that moment it didn't matter. The two of us had found unity, true unity. Maybe it was that we both felt alone as Christians, or maybe it was because it was early in the morning and we had been up all night. Whatever the reason doctrinal differences were put aside and Christian unity and the bond of love that only exists in Christ was clear and apparent. What is stopping people from always having unity like this?
I have been reading the book "Vintage Church" by Mark Driscoll and in it he quotes R.L. Omanson,
"Unity, however, does not demand uniformity. Indeed, from the beginning the church has manifested itself in many local churches (in Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, Ephesus, etc.); and the one New Testament church had neither uniformity of worship nor structures, or even a uniform theology....Unity is possible when we stop thinking of our church or denomination as the vine and all others as the branches. Rather, Jesus is the vine and all of us are branches."
What do you think about the church and unity? What can/should we sacrifice for the sake of unity in the church? What would it take to find unity among the 38,000+ denominations? Has the Restoration Movement (of which I am a part) lost it's plea for unity so desired by the men who began it?