Thursday, August 23, 2007

50 years of the Australian Unity Agreement (7)

The same brother who sent me the excellent idea in my previous post also took up my suggestion that the 'Agreement' could be written in the second person, to make it more personal.

Here is how he re-wrote it:

1. I confess my failures in the past to maintain unity in the Body, I repent of my sins, and I humbly rely on God’s grace so that I might “reach unity in faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Eph 4:13 NIV).

2. I acknowledge the teaching of Scripture that there should be no division in the Body of Christ, and I acknowledge the power in my Lord's prayer, when He prayed "that we may be one, as He and the Father are one" (John 17:11).

3. I agree to treat you with the same respect and courtesy that my Lord showed to all others who trod this earth with Him.

4. I agree to treat you with the same love and compassion that the Father has showered upon us all. I will act with kindness toward you, and to speak kindly of you to all others. I will not be a party to gossip or malicious talk about you at any time.

5. I agree to serve you, to esteem you better than myself, to put your needs before my own self-interests and to contribute in whatever way I can to your spiritual development. I am prepared to sacrifice my time, interests and possessions to meet your needs.

6. I agree to pray for you. I thank you for the contributions you make, I pray for your spiritual development and I will plead for your forgiveness when you fail.

7. I agree to trust you, and, in turn, to be trustworthy. Therefore I take you at your word and do not wish to attribute motives to your actions. Help me to always speak truthfully and to not deceive or mislead you at any time.

8. I agree to resolve my differences with you with love and in the Spirit of Christ. I respect and value your opinions and, I recognise that we are all at different stages of spiritual growth and maturity. I acknowledge your right to hold views which are different to my own.

9. I agree that my labours are in vain without the Father’s blessing, and I therefore seek His guidance, as together we unite our energies to building up His house. I stand before you as a Brother who is dedicated and committed to the task of maintaining unity in the Body of Christ.
I really want to encourage everyone who reads this to re-write this in your own words and to think of positive ways you could use it (and I'd love to hear from you as to any ideas it inspires in you). I certainly don't want this to be another 'document' which will be argued over, and I'd be delighted if the attitudes it encourages begin to overwhelmingly change the nature of 'fellowship discussions' and 'unity talks'. Call it an agreement, a covenant, a prayer, a love letter, or whatever you like. The best way to prevent this 'agreement' from becoming yet another document is for it to be dynamic, fluid, ever-changing, adapted to local circumstances, and put to a multitude of creative uses.