the weblog of Alan Knox

Chain Blog: Real Relational Unity

Posted by on Apr 22, 2013 in chain blog, community, fellowship, service, unity | 31 comments

Last Friday, I posted that I’m interested in started another “chain blog.” (See my post “Time for another chain blog? But what topic…” for an introduction to and explanation of chain blogs.) I mentioned a few possible topics, and several people were interested in the topic of “unity.” One commenter, Greg, suggested that we include true stories of how we have prevented or overcome division in order to live in unity with other followers of Jesus Christ.

Greg’s comment reminded me of a book that I read a few years ago. The book is called Your Church is Too Small and was written by John Armstrong. In this book, Armstrong makes a distinction between a unity that is only conception, theoretical, or spiritual and a unity that is both real and relational.

“Relational unity” is visible, palpable. It can be pointed out and experienced. It can also be quenched and grieved.

Few (if any) would argue that the church today rarely shows relational unity across denominations, theological systems, historical traditions, institutions, organizations, or even “local churches.” We occasionally attempt to relate to those who are like us and who believe like us (although even this is difficult in today’s church where acquiescence to a set of beliefs has replaced true community). When we do show relational unity with coworkers, neighbors, family members, etc., it is often considered to be something different than church – less than the church.

Thus, the church today is splintered and fractured, and lives as an anti-apologetic to the good news of Jesus Christ.

How could I make such a strong statement? Well, it comes from one of Jesus’ prayers:

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:20-21 ESV)

If we are “one” as the Father and Son are one, then we are united. If the world around us is affected by the unity, then it is a unity that can be seen, experienced, recognized… it is real. If it is a unity related to “us,” then it is relational. Thus, in just this short part of Jesus’ prayer, we can see that it is our “real relational unity” that is an apologetic to the world that God the Father sent Jesus into the world. Our divisions, then, work against that proclamation.

So, in this chain blog, I’m asking you to consider “real relational unity” among brothers and sisters in Christ. Your posts can be theoretical, exegetical, conception, and ideal. But, I also ask you to include real examples of living in unity with other followers of Jesus Christ – especially with those who may be different than you. If you don’t have real examples to share, then please share some steps that you yourself are willing to take to live in that real relational unity that we have in Jesus Christ, remembering Paul’s exhortation:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV)


Chain blog rules:

1) If you would like to write the next blog post (link) in this chain, leave a comment stating that you would like to do so. If someone else has already requested to write the next link, then please wait for that blog post and leave a comment there requesting to write the following link.

2) Feel free to leave comments here and discuss items in this blog post without taking part in the actual “chain.” Your comments and discussion are very important in this chain blog (both on this post and the other link posts in the chain).

3) When you write a link in this chain, please reply in the comments of the previous post to let everyone know that your link is ready. Also, please try to keep an updated list of links in the chain at the bottom of your post, and please include these rules at the bottom of your post.


“Links” in the “Real Relational Unity” chain blog:

1. “Chain Blog: Real Relational Unity” by Alan
2. “The Treasure of Unity ‘in’ our Relationships” by Jim
3. “So The World May Know – Observations on the Road to Unity” by Christopher
4. “Christian Unity – What it is and What it’s not” by Nathan
5. “Steps to Relational Unity” by Randi
6. “Learn to Live or Live to Learn” by Greg
7. “The Limits on Unity” by Arthur
8. “Joints of Supply” by David
9. “Some Examples of Real Relational Unity” by Alan
10. “An Example of Relational Unity” by Greg
11. “Relational Unity Begins at Home” by Kathleen
12. “Do Not Seek Christian Unity” by Jeremy
13. Who will write the 13th link post in the chain?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 4-22-2013

    I don’t believe cross-denominational unity can come until churches better define the limits of what they will tolerate as error. The problem is, many churches can’t even define their own limits, much less know what they can tolerate in another church’s

    What do we believe?
    Why do we believe it?
    How much difference are we willing to tolerate in a fellow Christian’s beliefs?

    Until we can answer those questions, there will be little unity.

  2. 4-22-2013

    Alan, this topic is of profound importance, and the light that can be shed upon unity through this chain blog will help overcome the divisive perceptions that we all can have, and replace them with the reality of unity.

    I will take spot number 2, and will post the link in the chain by tomorrow morning.

    Once again, thank you for your ministry of love in His name.

  3. 4-22-2013


    Several years ago, I stopped worrying about what different organizations would or would not do. Instead, my goal is to follow Jesus, learn from others how to follow Jesus, and help others follow Jesus, regardless of what those organizations decide or proclaim or forbid or boycott.


    I’m glad you’ve decided to write the second link post in the chain blog. I’m looking forward to your post. Please post a link here in the comments when it’s ready.


  4. 4-22-2013
  5. 4-22-2013


    Wow… that was fast! I’ve added your post to the chain blog list, and I hope to read it soon.


  6. 4-22-2013

    Hail Alan

    Can I take the number 3 spot, please? I’ll add the first two so far. Mine should be up relatively soon.

  7. 4-22-2013

    Hail Alan (part 2)

    Assuming I got the number 3 spot, here is the next part in the chain blog called So The World May Know – Observations on the Road to Unity.

  8. 4-22-2013


    Awesome! And thanks for leaving a link in the comments on Jim’s post as well.


  9. 4-22-2013

    I’m in, but will not get to a post for several days, so will watch this chain until then!

  10. 4-23-2013

    Great idea for a chain blog. I’ve been wanting to write a blog post on this for some time, so i’ll slot into number four while Jeremy is MIA. Great posts thus far. Mine has a slightly different spin, but quite similar.
    Here it is:

  11. 4-23-2013

    Oh and Alan, I think you put a link to an old chain blog post at number 1. on the bottom of this post. 😉

  12. 4-23-2013


    I look forward to your post. Let us know when you’re ready.


    I’ve fixed the old chain blog link. Thank you!

    Leave a comment on Christopher’s post when you’re post is ready. You can leave a comment here also, but it’s not necessary.


  13. 4-23-2013

    oh geesh, I’ve never done this before — but I’d like to try to write a post on this topic. I guess I should write it first and come back to you and let u know it’s finished? I’ll try to do it during naptime today. we will see what happens ha! 🙂

  14. 4-23-2013

    Sorry, I just re read the rules! I get it now (had a distracted mommy brain). I will post the link here when I’ve finished the entry, thank you! 🙂

  15. 4-23-2013

    here u go! 🙂 thnx for letting me try to share.

  16. 4-23-2013

    I left a comment at the bottom of Randi’s post.
    I also asked if Jeremy was not ready to post, may I?
    I already had most of my post written when Alan suggested the chain, and I if I get time, i hope to post a second offering later, about one of many true relational recoveries I’ve been part of, that healed division.
    This is probably my favorite topic, and it’s encouraging to see wider awareness, and hear the passion for unity in others.

  17. 4-23-2013

    I apologize for not giving specific examples. I had examples I could share, but I’m already way too wordy and my post was getting too long. 🙂

  18. 4-23-2013

    So Greg, when you do your 2nd post, I will post my 2nd post with specific examples! 🙂

  19. 4-23-2013

    So, Greg has the next link post in the chain, right?


  20. 4-24-2013

    Ok, here we are.
    This is the 6th post in the chain.

    Its an honor to be part of sharing precious truths with your readers Alan.
    May these posts bear the peaceable fruit of righteousness.

  21. 4-24-2013

    Many, today, mistake unity for uniformity. Elton Trueblood used the analogy of the dull, grey blanket versus the patchwork quilt. Much has gone awry since then.

    In today’s environment of abandoning basic Bible standards and gnostic heresies, we need to be wiser than serpents and harmless as doves regarding where we chose unity.

  22. 4-24-2013

    Hey Alan

    Not sure if this qialifies as an entry but I put some thoughts together on the issue of limits on unity within the church:

  23. 4-24-2013

    Hey Alan

    Not just cos he’s a King and stuff, but I hope you can slip Arthur’s post about the limits of unity on the list.

  24. 4-24-2013

    Sorry. I’ve been away from a computer for a while. I’ve added Arthur’s post to the chain blog list.


  25. 6-19-2013

    Finally got around to adding my link to the chain. Hopefully a few of my readers might pick up the chain and keep it alive!

  26. 6-20-2013


    Thanks for adding your post to the chain blog!


  27. 6-25-2013

    Till THE CHURCH gets to grips with what it entails to FOLLOW CHRIST , unity within THE BODY will be hard to achieve if not impossible. No priest or pastor or theologian has a FULL overview of what it means to LIVE CHRIST, hence we keep groping back and forth in the dark and describing the “elephant” as having a shape like a large mat( its ears), the “elephant” having a shape like a tree trunk( but its only its legs), the “elephant having a shape like a large snake( but its only its trunk), the “elephant” having a shape like a large solid wall( but its only its side) etc etc. There is so much theologising but we are still unable to come out of this gross darknesss we willfully clothed ourselves with due to DEEP-SEATED DISBELIEF THAT…..JESUS’ LIFE PRINCIPLES OF GOD…..IS TH KEY BACK to immortality, Heaven and GOD.

  28. 6-25-2013


    I agree that unity is impossible apart from following Jesus Christ. Thus, our lack of unity (which is readily apparent) is a demonstration that we are not following Jesus Christ. Learning to hear from one another and each person’s perspective (on the “elephant”) is a great step toward that unity.


  29. 6-26-2013

    Absolutely Mr. Knox. I would however confess that I am not VERY new to this “blog” thing so I would need some help. I would be content with any available slot you give me so I lay before all THE CHRIST-LIFE, as taught by the HOLY SPIRIT-MADE-FLESH / RETURNED CHRIST / COMFORTERwho for forty years, lived and taught about THE NEW JERUSALEM / HOLY CITY which has already descended. Dear brethren, the Christ indeed RETURNED and though He is no longer in the flesh with us , He has already given the tools which THE CHURCH need to order God’s world in THE PEACE OF GOD.
    Father Knox , any available slot will do. Thanks.

  30. 6-27-2013


    First, please call me Alan.

    Second, do you have a blog?


  31. 1-1-2014

    An important subject… I see John 17 as key…


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