In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things love. This quote about Christian unity is attributed to many authors. It was part of the doctrinal statement of the Foursquare church that I was a part of for 30 years. It is reported to have been used by John Wesley the founder of the Methodist church. It is part of the constitution of the Moravian church founded by John Hus. There are even some Catholic references to this quote. It, in my opinion, is the key to ethical Christian unity.
I personally believe in a practical Christianity. I believe in Christian unity. People cannot see what is in your heart, they can only see what you do. The Apostle James put it this way. "Faith without works is dead". In our modern vernacular, it could be said this way. "Talk is cheap!" Jesus prayed that his disciples would have unity. If it was important enough for Jesus to pray about, then maybe it would be a good idea for us to take a closer look at Christian unity.
Christian unity Cannot Mean Compromise.
Never do you find Jesus compromising on anything. In fact He was famous for going against the grain and not compromising His values and teaching. It did get him killed you know! So there are certain things that cannot be compromised on. These things are the "essentials". Things like who God is, who Jesus was and is, how to be forgiven by God and have eternal life. These things cannot be compromised. Jesus made it clear that He was the only way to the Father and that we must go through Him. It is the fact that there are essentials that form the basis for Christian unity.
Christian unity Does Not Mean Uniformity.
God is a creative being. He makes all people and all things unique. He does not celebrate uniformity but diversity. We are all His workmanship and He loves people being different. If we understand this, then we do not have the need to make people into our image. I am more than capable of worshipping, fellowshipping, and working with people of many colors of Christianity. As long as we have the common ground of essentials between us, then it does not matter if they sing hymns on Sunday, use the King James Version of the Bible only, or wear robes and have a structured order of service, or worship on Saturday. These things are non-essentials. They are not part of how you get to heaven, they are part of what you do while you are on earth. I have walked arm in arm with Lutherans, Baptists, Nazarene's, Methodists, Pentecostals, and Charismatics and many colors in between. I don't expect them to be like me, and they find out quickly that I won't become like them. I am secure in my faith in Jesus alone and that lets me walk in Christian unity.
Christian unity Does mean we are to love!
You cannot get away from the fact that the Bible tells us that Christians are supposed to love. Not only those that are like them, but those that are not. Jesus said to love even your enemies. We are to love saint and sinner alike. So I am to give my life and my love for all people, not just those that attend my church or think like me. So whether you are a Presbyterian or Pentecostal, Baptist or Adventist, Catholic or Charismatic, Non-Denominational or Non-Believing, I am called to love you. And so are all that name the name of Jesus by calling themselves Christian. Walking in love with your brothers and sisters in Christ is the foundation of Christian unity.