Author Eric Shuster will be providing a series of blog posts summarizing various sections of his upcoming book Where are the Christians? due to be released this spring from Cedar Fort, Inc. We will feature one post each week from now until May 2013. For more information visit www.findyourchristianity.com.
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SECTION 4: HOW IS CHRISTIANITY TO UNITE? – A Vision
Chapter 17: Strengthening the Community
The fourth and final rung in the Model of Christian Unity following the individual, family and church is the community. The ideal scenario is for a community to be made up of strong individuals, families and churches—a blessing to all those who reside in such a community.
There is a societal lineage that maps to the Model of Christian Unity: individuals make up families; families make up neighborhoods; neighborhoods make up cities; cities make up counties; counties make up districts; districts make up states; states make up a nation; nations make up the world. There is a phrase “think global, act local,” a phrase which has great applicability to the concept of the church community.
The Biblical case for strengthening the community is really a culmination of the Biblical cases given for strengthening individuals, families and churches. Strengthening the community is not something most Christians think about—it is simply not a spiritual priority—this despite the fact that the Savior taught “if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25).
Conventional wisdom suggests the great dividers of the Christian community come from the atheists and other anti-Christian organizations. However, that is not the case. The primary dividers of the Christian community can be found within the walls of Christianity itself—self-appointed judges and protectors of the faith as they interpret it. In short dividers are Modern-day Pharisees (from Chapter 8).
The unifiers of the community come in the form of individuals and institutions that have the vision of strengthening the body of Christ, looking past that which divides different denominations of Christianity and instead focusing on the commonality that can be leveraged. Shuster researches and reports on a number of highly successful global and local ecumenical efforts including intra-faith ministries and inter-faith ministries. Some of these institutions such as Northwest Assistance Ministries in Houston and the Neighborhood Interfaith Movement of Philadelphia are helping thousands of people each year by bringing together dozens of different Christian denominations to work together as one.
Unifying Christianity is not just a utopian pipe dream that exists in the same universe as wish granting fairies, calorie free ice cream and world peace. The Model of Christian Unity is already in progress and is strengthening communities and unifying Christianity towards reaching its potential. There are hundreds of community building efforts among diverse Christian congregations operating and changing lives around the United States. Therefore the question of whether or not it is possible to strengthen and unify the body of Christ in helping Christianity reach its potential has been answered—the answer is YES. What then will you do to help unify Christianity?
Our 18 week journey has briefly summarized who the Christians are from a historical perspective; what a Christian is from a spiritual perspective; where the Christians are from a behavioral perspective; and how Christianity can be strengthened and more united from a societal perspective. Thank you for joining us.
Go to www.findyourchristianity.com to watch the book trailer, find out what type of Christian you are, and to order the book.