It is good for the people of diverse faiths to engage in exploring their common grounds. But acknowledging our common grounds and getting engaged in shared activities should not necessarily lead to a unified faith and worship. Organic unity of all believers requires more than the acknowledgment of common elements in our faiths.
When Jesus prayed, “that they may be one” (John 17) His plea did not mean that oneness should be obtained at whatever cost and without a clear criteria. Jesus never commissioned his followers to look for that one familiar thing in other walks of faith that would make everyone content. He stated repeatedly that his followers ought to seek one kind of unity only: one of which He is the Lord, its center and the only object of adoration.
For me as a follower of Jesus, Jesus is everything that matters, the final destination, purpose and object of God’s revelation, and the all encompassing and living word of God. He is my Priest, my Lord, my Mediator, my Savior, my Redeemer, my soon-coming King, and my God who will “not share His glory with another” (Isaiah 42:8). Jesus is central to my faith. He is not only one piece of doctrinal furniture among many. Looking for Jesus lost in a room richly furnished with many other gods, saints, masters and prophets would mean denying my God and my Lord. It would mean following “another Jesus” and obeying “other gospel”. 2.Corinthians 11:4., Galatians 1:6-9. Invitation to spiritual unity without clearly defined line of separation unavoidably leads to embracing an emasculated, compromised and powerless Jesus.
While the governments, countries, companies and various organizations often unite by applying the common ground principles, the Church of Christ cannot afford to be assimilated within the parameters of some merged spirituality. Unity negotiated out of a compromise will soon end up in deceit. For if Jesus Christ, the real Jesus who is “the way, the truth and life” (John 14:6) does not seat on the throne, some other fake, parasite “Christ” surely will.
If the early followers of Jesus two thousand years ago were advancing some kind of common-ground-faith, generously shared with the religions of the day, we would have by now all become the vilest pagans with no memory of the Gospel of Jesus. The message and image of Christ would have been devoured beyond recognition. The Old Testament accounts of pagan syncretism, readily and repeatedly embraced by Israel and Judah in the centuries following the breakdown of the Kingdom of Israel soon after the reigns of David and Solomon, more than graphically demonstrate what happens when the revelation of God becomes chocked by a common ground spirituality designed to accommodate everyone and offend none.
Jesus Christ calls his followers to another kind of unity and inclusion. This is not a unity under which we are all called to place our gods and idols into a common basket to be displayed and adored by all. This is the kind of unity and inclusion where Jesus Christ crucified, risen and glorified is calling us to come to HIS table to admire Him and Him alone. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”, invites Jesus (Matthew 11:28). And as we do come and behold His beauty we will realize that all our spiritual toys, gadgets, idols and gods, ancient or new, that we have cherished so dearly until now are not worth keeping.
I am longing for the unity of all believers, safeguarded by the words of Paul the Apostle: “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8)