This September, each Monday I have written about the topic of unity. I hope to help bring clarity to what it actually means to be united in campus ministry. There are many misconceptions about unity, and there are even harmful ways of pursuing unity. I hope these four posts can help students and campus ministers move toward unity in a Biblical, practical way.
Last week, in an attempt to describe misconceptions about what it means to unite in campus ministry, I wrote about what unity “Is Not.” This week I will take the opposite approach, by writing about what unite IS. I will use passages from Ephesians and I Corinthians to make my points. These thoughts are developed much further in my upcoming book, Campus Renewal – A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission.
Biblical Unity is Pursued (Eph. 4:1-3)
When I first started calling students and campus ministers from different ministries to pray together weekly, one of the most common things I heard was, “We’re already one in Christ. Why do we need to be in relationship with one another?” We would never apply the same theology to other parts of our lives. For instance, Brenda and I have been one in Christ’s eyes since we were married on September 29th, 2001. If I tried to tell her, “We’re already one in Christ. Why do we need to spend time together?” You know that would not fly! Similarly, we have already been made holy in God’s eyes through the sanctifying work of Jesus, but we are still called to “work out this salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:13).
Ephesians 4 tells us to “make every effort” to keep the unity of the Spirit. That means unity is meant to be pursued. It takes intentionality.
Biblical Unity is Purposeful (I Cor. 8 & 9)
There can be no unity where there is no purpose. The students and ministers at UT were reluctant to begin praying together in large part because they had experienced false forms of unity in the past. Often when campus ministries begin to pursue unity they end up pursuing unity for unity’s sake. Unity becomes the goal, and thus become self focused and empty.
Unity is not the goal. Rather, it is the means. Unity is a means to a higher goal: The goal of reaching an entire campus with the gospel. When ministry leaders commit to a goal that is bigger than any of their own individual ministries, it will require them to work together. This is the point Paul makes in I Cor- inthians 8 and 9. He reminds the Corinthians that they should accept people who have different views then them for the sake of the gospel. He did not want the Corinthians disagreement about food sacrificed to idols or his own view on receiving money as an apostle to get in the way of the gospel advancing. He said he would become “all things to all men” so as to advance the gospel.