Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 25, 1960
NUMBER 16, PAGE 5-6b

Effort Toward Unity

Kenneth Marrs, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Just how badly do brethren of varying convictions, the country over, want to see peace, harmony, and fellowship prevail in the church? Just how much do we all want to prove our faithfulness to the Lord in obedience to simple "milk of the Word" commands touching these things? Do we hunger for it with enough longing to work at it seriously; to sacrifice personal loves and determinations as we ought, if need be, to achieve it? Each man must answer these great questions for himself and, take care that they be answered pleasingly to the Lord.

Brethren, please consider these things seriously.

The situation in the church does not have to continue as it is today. Does anybody believe that it HAS to continue; that it is hopeless and incurable? Without doubt the overall picture is not pleasing to the Lord, not meeting his aims, desire, and prayer for His disciples. (1 Cor. 1:10; Jno. 17:20-21) Shall such a condition be permitted to continue? Ought there not rather be an all out effort toward unity by ALL of us?

What is greater than the Kingdom of God? Nothing is greater! The unity, spread, and preservation of the church therefore, without corruption or compromise of God's truth upon which it rests, is the greatest goal which we as true, God fearing, truth loving, peace seeking, spiritually minded brethren can set ourselves to seek today. The Kingdom must not be divided. It cannot be divided except somewhere the greater be exchanged for the lesser.

Our present course will not achieve unity. On the contrary, the breach becomes wider and wider. The record of recent years abundantly confirms this. The pronounced disagreements already existing cannot fail to end in complete, unhappy, dissipating, soul destroying, God condemned division if the pursuits continue in their present manner. It is time for a change in these matters: time for all of us to center our attention on a cure.

Is there not an answer to the problem? Can we not find a common basis of agreement and unity, a way to receive one another in every good work? Is there not some way in which good works may be done without causing fear for truth or division or occasion of stumbling or offence to any body? Is there a way which would bear no possibility of apostasy and present no danger to the simple congregational activities and form of government of the New Testament church? Isn't there a way that would guarantee truth, assure peace and fellowship among brethren, and preserve and promote the church of the Lord in every respect? Is there a way in which we could all edify and increase rather than incriminate one another?

There may be such a way. I believe there is. And if there is, how pathetic and inexcusable if we do not strive to find it! Who would not give it his support? This is the type of thing the scriptures enjoin us to "follow after." (Rom. 14:19) Indeed, that way might call for adjustments personal and otherwise, but with this one prevailing and compelling thought in our heart: THE KINGDOM OF GOD FIRST, every adjustment would be a happy one. One could find or lose his life right here. (Matt. 10:39) Who is so rich or wise or strong that he can afford to see division in Christ's body which with his help might have been prevented? What terrible things division leaves in its wake and portends for the future. How unnecessary! How evil! On the other hand, what wondrous things unity works. Its possibility must not go untried.

How might we go about a drive in unity's direction? The first thing, of course, would be to have the sincere cooperation of brethren from every quarter. Let us all search the scripture studying the problem from this angle. Obviously, church problems call for scriptural solutions. Is there a solution here which we have failed to see or that has not been sufficiently emphasized? The editors and writers of every brotherhood paper could render a priceless service by humbly and sincerely opening their hearts and pens and papers to an all out effort toward unity. After much prayer and study has been given to the matter, and many thoughts have been exchanged and examined in a respectful and brotherly manner, the wisdom and power and providence of God will lead us in the WAY together to peace and truth.

Does the idea seem naive? Does it flatter us too much? Let us hope not. If however, we should rest only upon ourselves for strength and wisdom, or if any bitterness or enmity of heart were voiced, the whole thing would become most naive. But as we look away from God in faith and humility, the idea takes on a maturity and a spiritual stature that is challenging and quite worthy of striving for. Yes, it becomes vital and necessary.

Let me not seem to over-simplify a grievous and mountainous problem. Only suffer this word of exhortation that our minds and efforts be turned as one toward Christ for the badly needed direction through this crucial time. Such mountains can be removed through faith.

There is no problem that is larger than Christ can settle. With humility of mind and person, with all faith and contentment in truth and with the Spirit of Christ abiding in our hearts toward one another current problems can be resolved. If they cannot be resolved, we need another Christ: the problems are greater than He Any reflection is upon ourselves, not upon our undivided Lord.

It certainly is not too much for us to be called upon to expend our best efforts now in the direction of unity. It would be offensive to us for anybody to infer that we might do differently. And those brethren who feel they have been struggling for this unity all along will surely give their support to any scriptural basis for achieving it. If that basis can be found and if it will be recognized and accepted, what terrible things might he avoided. What wonderful things might come in their place! A precedent might also be set that would spare the church untold heartaches and setbacks in the years ahead over issues yet undreamed of. Sadly enough division itself sets something of a precedent. One might therefore hope and pray to see a surge of efforts toward unity.

It is realized that no study or suggestion as to the solution is given herein. This has been deliberately omitted until the question: "Do we really want unity and fellowship" is first settled. The desire to have them upon a scriptural basis will pave the way, but except that desire he clear and certain, any effort toward unity would be thwarted from the start.

Brethren, we owe this unity, this oneness unto the Lord. We owe it to one another. We owe it to the world in showing forth Christ. By the grace and power of God let us have it!