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Your Voice: Unity without uniformity in the body of Christ

By Pastor Luke Holmes
First Baptist Church Tishomingo, Oklahoma

Uniformity is almost impossible to come by, but Christians can experience unity in the body of Christ if they are willing to work for it. Unity among Christians is more than a buzzword; it is a command given to us in Scripture.

In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul tells believers to work to maintain unity among themselves. But that seems harder and harder to do these days, sadly even among Christians. The diversity of our churches and our denominations means we will never have uniformity. But we can’t escape the command Paul gives us: “Keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).

This doesn’t mean we should ignore real differences in doctrine among fellow Christians. However, it does mean we should work hard to stay in unity with others and not look for every chance to disagree.

3 ways to model unity

Here are three ways we can model this unity in our churches and across bodies of believers.

  1. Be certain of the essentials.

Much of the division we face centers around the difference between first and second-tier doctrines. Christians who work together are able to do more than they could ever do apart, but it is not without challenges. We must be certain of what we believe and what doctrines are essential.

  1. Model Christ’s love for others.

Many people are more than willing to hold onto the essentials and proclaim them loudly. But we must do so in a manner that reflects the heart of Christ. Holding on to the essentials and treating others with kindness and respect are not mutually exclusive. Modeling Christ’s love for others can be as simple as giving someone the benefit of the doubt instead of jumping to the worst conclusion about what they say.

  1. Work to find common ground under the cross.

The biblical call to unity within the body of Christ is not just for people who believe as we do on every single point. Paul’s commands to bear “with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2b) and “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3) imply it will take work to keep unity within the church and among fellow Christians. True unity never comes easily but is always worth it.

It takes work, grace and conviction to live in unity with others. It also takes a desire to see the gospel spread. Do the work necessary to live in unity with fellow believers for the sake of the Kingdom and the spread of the gospel.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Adapted for space from “How we can maintain unity without uniformity in the body of Christ,” originally published at research.lifeway.com. Used with permission.)

For freedom, Christ set us free” (Gal. 5:1a). Paul begins the fifth chapter of Galatians with this powerful statement. The mission, message and ministry of Christ all centered on freedom — freedom from the bondage of sin that captures humanity.

Throughout the New Testament, Scripture speaks to the freedom the believer finds only in Christ Jesus — freedom from sin, death and condemnation.

Paul was not only the chief sinner (1 Tim. 1:15), but he was also the foremost speaker on freedom. He reminded the church at Corinth that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is also freedom (2 Cor. 3:17).

To Galatia, he gave a charge to not “use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love” (Gal. 5:13). …

As Christians, freedom should be our desire for everyone we meet, as this is the mission of Christ. It is for freedom we have been set free.

Natasha Menifee

“5 Facts About Juneteenth”


We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.

We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all those blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue or our own.

Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

Abraham Lincoln

God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?

Thomas Jefferson

Without God, there is no virtue, because there’s no prompting of the conscience. Without God, we’re mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure.

If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.

Ronald Reagan

‘Will dogs go to heaven?’

We don’t like to talk about death, do we? Yet the shadow of death that David talked about in Psalm 23 has certainly fallen around me and people I love these past few days.

My heart is heavy because of the death of a beloved church member, Lois, and one of my best friends ever, Jim. Another death that is impacting me at this moment is the impending death of my daughter’s dog, Oreo. If you ever met Oreo, you would understand why she is named after a cookie.

Oreo has been part of our family for 13 years. So the question arises: “Will dogs go to heaven?” Can we find comfort in that?

While the Bible tells us that humans have a soul and are created in the very image of God, dogs are not. But while dogs are not the image of God, I certainly believe they are agents of God — gifts to us. And the Bible does speak of animals in heaven in passages like Isaiah 11:6–9, Ecclesiastes 3:18–21 and others. Revelation tells us that Jesus will be on a horse, for crying out loud!

So yes, I believe dogs go to heaven. Who knows? Perhaps they can even communicate with us, and after the Lord greets me and I greet family members and friends like Jim, Lois and others, Oreo will come up to me and say, “Hey, Paw Paw! (That’s what she called me.) Thanks for the head scratches and belly rubs and treats. They were awfully good.” And I’ll tell her that I enjoyed them about as much as she did.

As I told a little girl who asked me that deep theological question about dogs in heaven: “I can’t imagine heaven without ‘em.”

Pastor Tony Barber
Adapted from the June 1, 2023, newsletter of Church on the Bluff, Hoover

We live in a changing world and a changing culture. I have never lived in a time like we live in now where right is wrong and sin is being celebrated like it is today. The new sin is confusion over sexual identity, and it seems like the whole culture is caught up in this sin.

We must love the lost and people who are confused about their sexual orientation, but we can never give in to the sins of today. Yet this is just one sin that is being embraced by our culture. There are many other sins in our society that are tearing the moral fabric of our society apart. We need to pray for the lost and let them know that God loves them and wants to deliver them from their sins.

Robert Smith
Director of missions
Muscle Shoals Baptist Association

Spiritual drifting is subtle, barely noticeable and ever so slightly moves you away from your relationship with God. Drift a little today. Drift a little more tomorrow and the next day. Finally, one day you wake up in the middle of the lake or 1250 miles from home.
(p. 45)

Bill Brewster
“Revival: It’s Time to Live Again”

Joy is the overflowing expression of the Lord Jesus living in us. When the Holy Spirit sets up residence in our lives, joy is what is produced.

Roc Collins
Strategic objectives director
Tennessee Baptist Mission Board

Statistics continue to show that the churches who do VBS and take it seriously have more baptisms than the others, so if you want to raise baptisms, do VBS.

Ben Mandrell
President and CEO
Lifeway Christian Resources

The word for encourager in the New Testament is the same word Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit — “the one called to your side.” This means that encouragement can be among the most godly things we do since those we meet may be experiencing pain or loss.

One reason we should be kind to others is because of a surprising exhortation in the Book of Hebrews: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Heb. 13:2). I sometimes chide myself with this verse when I get frustrated by panhandlers on the street asking for money. The better side of my nature reminds me this may be a divine appointment to minister to an angel and thus demonstrate my love for God.

Another reason to be kind is that we live in debt. The Apostle Paul reminded us to be charitable toward others since this is exactly what God did for us (Eph. 4:32).

Pastor Michael J. Brooks
Siluria Baptist Church, Alabaster

Job prayed when he had all and nothing. Prayer is not about your circumstances as much as it is about who God is.

Bob Lowman
Executive director
Metrolina Baptist Association,
Charlotte, North Carolina