Nathan Ko

Christian unity does not equal uniformity

By  Nathan Ko, Catholic Register Special
  • February 22, 2013

Editor’s note: This is the third-place essay in the annual essay contest for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity sponsored by The Catholic Register and The Franciscan Friars of the Atonement- Graymoor.

 

Unity is essential to all Christians as we are called to be “one body in Christ” (Romans 12:5). However, unity does not imply uniformity, so not every Christian must think alike or have exactly the same beliefs, but it means to be in perfect oneness in God. The elimination of religious prejudice, the increase of ecumenical dialogue and co-operation of mutual causes are great areas of focus to achieve full and visible Christian unity.

Christians need to accept each other and tolerate differences. Even though contrasting beliefs may be significant, there is no reason to hold prejudices. As Jesus loves everybody, even non-believers and atheists, and calls us to do the same, why should we Christians have enmity among ourselves? Jesus dined with Zacchaeus, a dishonest tax collector, without the least aversion. An internal conflict among Christians only makes us weaker and unable to perform the evangelical duties and to be the “light of the world” (John 8:12) that Jesus wanted of us. There have been wars fought between Christians in the name of God, resulting in numerous deaths, which certainly did not please God. Internal struggles accomplish nothing more than pleasing Satan and weakening the Christian body.

Ecumenical dialogue between Christians is inevitable to full communion among Christians. However, effectiveness of the communication requires it must be done with a real desire to listen to others’ perspectives and with recognition of Christ’s presence within everyone. All parties must admit their own faults causing the original separation of Christianity. If not, these talks may instead provoke quarrels and lead to a further division among Christians. In addition to ecumenical dialogue, prayer is also necessary for the unity of Christians. Through regular common prayer around Christ, we will come to realize that what already unites us is far greater than what divides us.

Co-operation among Christians on mutual causes will help strengthen our relationships. We share many fundamental beliefs that are challenged with the secular world, including the sanctity of life, the existence of God and religious freedom. If we work together on these causes, we will have a much more powerful voice than if we work independently. There is strength in numbers, heard both from within and by others. Evangelizing, marching and lobbying together will make an impact on those who see us, but also will affect ourselves, as we see more of the similarities than the differences within us. A co-operation among Christians will not only have a stronger impact on the world, but also on ourselves.

A family that respects each other’s varying opinions and forgives each other’s mistakes will be more united than one that picks out the others’ faults. Likewise, Christians must forgive each other for their historical mistakes regarding the separation of Christianity, and must work humbly to rebuild the body of Christ. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul asked “that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1:10).

(Ko, 14, is a student at St. Brother André High School in Markham, Ont.)

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