“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”
A. W. Tozer The Pursuit of God
Ever since the earliest days of my walk with Christ, I’ve had a strong passion and deep burden for the unity of the Body of Christ. This passion and burden have sprung from two main sources: the clear teaching of Scripture and, in stark contrast, the grievous division that abounds in the Church of Jesus Christ.
From Scripture, it is clear that there are few things more precious to God than unity. Please consider the following:
- Unity defines the very nature of His triune being.
- Unity permeated all of “eternity past” before the beginning of time.
- Unity characterized the whole of creation prior to the rebellion of Lucifer.
- Unity marked the Garden of Eden before the serpent entered and tempted Eve.
- Unity is what God sought to manifest through His chosen nation, Israel.
- Unity is what Christ taught, prayed for, and then died and rose from the dead in order to restore.
- Unity is what the Holy Spirit poured out on the Church on the day of Pentecost.
- Unity is what the early church was known by throughout the book of Acts.
- Unity is what Paul and the other apostles repeatedly exhorted the Church unto throughout the Epistles.
- Unity is what will define the Kingdom of God in the millennial reign of Christ.
- Unity is what will prevail in the new heavens and new earth for all eternity.
From beginning to end, unity lies at the very heart and soul of God and His eternal purpose! That is enough for me! How about you?
As we turn from looking at the central and significant place of unity in Scripture to the vessel that God has chosen to manifest His eternal purpose on earth, the Church, what do we see in this regard? Instead of seeing a corresponding witness on earth of unity, we see an entirely contrary witness of disunity. In my opinion, it is an utter mess, an epic fail, an outright mockery of the unifying work of God in Christ! I really don’t think it could get much worse!
So, I have to ask, “What is the cause of this vast disparity between the strong testimony of Scripture regarding unity and the despicable testimony of the Church in its practice of disunity?”
As I’ve contemplated this matter, I’ve come to a conclusion that may be somewhat surprising.
Ironically, I’ve come to believe that the greatest enemy to unity in the Church is actually the Church’s pursuit of “unity!” Look about the Christian landscape and I think that you will see that this is so. When any portion of the Church pursues an isolated form of unity along sectarian lines, it becomes divisive to the larger body of Christ. In fact, the sectarian pursuit of “unity” is one of the most dangerous and destructive practices the Church regularly engages in. Christendom is riddled with the divisive fruit of this practice.
The reality is, that as much as God esteems and seeks unity in His Church, He has not set unity as a primary pursuit for His Church. Rather, it is a secondary matter that comes into expression as His people primarily seek a much higher and greater objective, i.e., that of conformity to Jesus Christ. In other words, the unity that He seeks is a “fruit” issue, not a “root” issue.
To give an example, if I want to have delicious apples to eat, I don’t primarily set out to create apples with my own determination, wisdom, and resources. That would be impossible! Rather, I plant and nurture an apple tree and, in time, I have delicious apples to eat! The same is true with unity. If we want the unity that God desires, we don’t primarily set out to create unity with our own determination, wisdom, and resources. That, likewise, would be impossible! Instead, we plant and nurture the right “Tree” and, in time, we have the delicious fruit of unity!
So, what is that “Tree”?
It is the “Tree of Life”!
And what is the “Tree of Life”?
It is CHRIST!
I once tweeted, “We don’t obtain unity by pursuing unity together; we obtain unity by pursuing Christ together!”
Isn’t this what Bro. Tozer is saying in the quote at the beginning of this post. We don’t get 100 pianos in one accord by tuning them to each other, but by individually tuning them to another standard. That “standard”, that “fork”, is Jesus Christ!
When man tries to create unity, he employs all manner of “forks” to bring people into one accord. More often than not, however, Jesus Christ Himself becomes “the fork that the tuners reject.” (to paraphrase Psalm 118:12 & 1 Peter 2:7)
Jesus Christ is a “Fork” that is heavenly and spiritual in nature. He can only be “heard” by those who have spiritual ears attune to His heavenly “frequency”. Man, in general, is much more in resonance with earthly, natural things, and so are much more readily brought into one accord around a “fork” that is of a lower nature.
Jesus Christ is, likewise, a “Fork” that emits a sound that is fuller and more exquisite than any tone heard here on earth. The range and resonance of the sound far exceeds the dull, monotone ring of our earthly “forks”. He emits a symphony of sound that is able to tune all of our diverse “strings” harmoniously at once. Those who are attuned to Him create a magnificent symphony of sound in their unified diversity. Not so the “forks” of earth which emit a single tone and create a much more uniform drone. Such, however, is easier for leaders to “conduct” and for man to “echo”, and so man’s spiritually tone-challenged ears rally around their monotonous, man-made rings.
Consider, then, the many “forks” that religious/spiritual people employ to bring followers into one accord:
Some employ the “fork” of church hierarchy and official dogma; others that of denominational affiliation and theological persuasion; still others a chosen religious tradition, spiritual experience, Scriptural emphasis, charismatic personality, church polity, crafted program, or popular movement. All of these are used to bring a select portion of the Body of Christ into one accord around their particular tone.
This may all seem very reasonable, but what is the over-all result?
A global, ecclesiastical CACOPHONY;
A ubiquitous, religious BABEL!
I tweeted at a different time: “The unity of the Church is found in Jesus Christ alone. All human contrivances to produce unity only divide the Church further. JESUS ALONE!”
God has only ONE FORK with which to tune ALL of His Church! The unity that He seeks is found solely in the Lord Jesus Christ! “For He Himself is our peace…” (Ephesians 2:14) Only He, through His glorious Person and work is able to bring all of God’s people into unity and one accord.
So, let it be understood, that the “fork” that we tune to is not an institution or organization, for Christ is not an institution or organization. The “fork” that we tune to is not a mere theological position or set of doctrines, for Christ is not a mere theological position or set of doctrines. The “fork” that we tune to is not a particular spiritual emphasis or religious experience, for Christ is not a particular spiritual emphasis or religious experience.
The “Fork” that we tune to is a PERSON! He is a Living PERSON in Whom all fullness dwells, and Who transcends all of these things. As each one of us becomes personally tuned to Him, we automatically become tuned to one another. This is God’s way of true unity!
May we as Christ’s Body transcend these lesser, divisive “forks”, and seek to become fully one in resonance with God’s chosen “Fork”. Then, and only then will we be fully tuned with one another and so be fit for the Grand Symphony of the Ages to be played through us to the glory of God and the joy of all creation!
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As I was searching for this quote of A. W. Tozer’s, I came across a video of a musical production which was inspired by these very words. I share the link with you here as a final meditation and inspiration. It is extraordinary!
As you watch and listen, please consider the multitude and diversity of talents and gifts that have gone into making this what it is. This is a beautiful picture of the Body of Christ, all in tune, functioning in one accord, under the direction of one Conductor! Enjoy!
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Related posts and pages:
Unity: Center to Circumference (A complimentary expression of this truth using a different analogy.)
Centrality and Balance (An historical look at how the Church has “tuned to different forks.”)
The Church (A collection of tweets on “The Church” including those mentioned in this post.)