Back in the seventies and early eighties, we spent quite a lot of time and energy trying to be in unity with others who shared common goals with ours. We looked, of course, to those who lived a common life, although we were quick to assume that anyone even thinking about being like the first century disciples was probably our brother. We were shocked to find that individual after individual and group after group ran out of momentum, and like rockets failing to achieve escape velocity, fell disastrously back into the self-satisfied compromise of an increasingly corrupt as well as ecumenical religious system. One after the other, they settled for some sort of compromise: watching the Super Bowl instead of worshiping, dressing up in clerical attire, selfish ambition, fleshly indulgence, or all manner of strange "charismatic" practices that gave us the creeps.
Finally it became clear that if we spent all our time trying to find other groups to establish relationships with, we were never going to get on with what our Father was telling us to do. It became clear that there were all sorts of motives for having a form of unity, or even living in community, besides loving with the love that He loved us with. We certainly didn't want to wind up with a nice community, run with clock-like precision, and lacking the essence described in John 3:8.
We have confidence in John 10:16. He is going to bring all His sheep together in the last days, just as Isaiah 56:8 prophesies. As we are faithful to confess our sins and shortcomings, guarding the unity that He has given us, we will become worthy of having others gathered with us. It has been a difficult beginning, coming up out of the dust. We have undergone many trying times as we have come face to face with our iniquities. Through it all, we hope that the hindrances to our love are being dealt with. Though we are still very faulty, we are learning how to bear with one another's faults because we are coming to recognize our own limitations and see our need for one another.
And we need all those who see their need for our Master to save them from their sins (Matthew 1:21), all who are willing to do His will, all who consider Him worth abandoning all. Yes, we have looked around and not seen other groups at this time in history that we can simply fall in line behind. We have had to do a lot of bushwhacking to find our way, so we think of ourselves as being at the forefront. I guess He had to start dealing with us earlier because there was so much to deal with in our lives.
- Robert Chambers