The final element I think I should add regarding the "True Church" of Jesus Christ is the imperative of unity. This is in stark contrast to the ultrafundamentalist demand for "separation," which has become so distorted and abused as a Biblical teaching that in has marred the Gospel message to the world. (I'll comment more on this "doctrine of separation" championed by ultrafundamentalists in a later post.)
Yet, the imperitive of unity must also be differentiated from the water weak concept of ecumenical "unity" based merely on "love." Please understand what I mean. The greatest chapter in the Bible on unity is John 17. In this chapter, most appropriately called "The Lord's Prayer," Our Lord prayed a number of times, "that they all may be one; as you, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us..." (John 17:21). Yet, Jesus also prayed, "Sanctify them through your truth; Your Word is truth" (John 17:17).
The Apostle Paul puts it most succinctly when he charges the Ephesians to "[speak] the truth in love..." (Ephesians 4:15a). The basis of the unity of the Body of Christ, The True Church, the Church Universal, Spiritual, Invisible....is both truth and love. Love void of truth is mere emotion and sentiment; Truth void of love is cold, hard, robotic. Neither one can produce unity -- true, biblical unity -- without the other. That is why Fundamentalism is so judgmental and legalistic; that is why Liberalism is so mushy and meaningless.
Is this easy? Clearly not. Look at how the church has failed fairly consistently at it over the past 2,000 years. But it is God's call to His true Body. Truth and love form a symbiotic relationship that, when balanced, can provide the type of unity God desires -- the kind that only His Spirit can produce. Anything less is the product of the made with hands churches, institutions, movements and men who lead them.
Doctor Robertson McQuilkin, past president of Columbia International University (my alma mater), has a famous saying -- one which has become a guiding principle and motto of my life and ministry. He said, "It is easier to go to a consistent extreme, than to stay at the center of Biblical tension." So true... Humans, believers, have an extremely difficult time finding balance at the center of Biblical tension. This is true on this key issue of unity -- and it's just as true with the other issues of Ekklesia -- the Church, that I've addressed in these several posts. Here's hope that you can strike a balance in your walk -- HINT: It can only be found in HIM.
A closing note for now: Some would read this and believe that I am condemning the current manifestation of "the church" wholesale. Some would conclude that I reject any form of local church, denomination, institution or organization other than "The Church" universal, invisible, and spiritual. That's not necessarily true -- if you've read past posts, you may have caught some clues of that. However, my last post on this subject will deal with "Ekklesia: Clarifications and Caveats." That, I hope, will deal with any lingering doubts or questions you might think to ask. Or at least it will prove to you once and for all that I really AM a heretic! :-)