Having The Same Father
We applaud genuine efforts on the part of any who strive to heal divisions and bring about unity in Christ. But unity in Christ is a goal to be achieved — not assumed. One fallacy that has been characteristic of "unity movements" goes like this. We are children of the same Father, therefore "brothers" whether we recognize it or not. Let us examine this.
Spiritual "children" of God is a metaphorical expression, a figure of speech drawn from natural occurrence. God's word is the seed (1 Pet. 1:23), received in honest and good hearts (Lu. 8:15, Jas. 1:18), and producing God-like lives (Gal. 5:22-f., 1 Jn. 3: 9-10). Such people "conform to the image of His Son" (Rom. 8:29); are partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1: 3-4). "Children of God" is not a name for "club members"; it defines people in a qualitative sense — applies only to a certain kind of people.
God knows His own without fail (2 Tim. 2:19), and certainly my judgment will not determine their eternal destiny. But that same verse says, "and Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness" I have no reason to consider one a child of God who does not act as my understanding of God's word tells me such a person will act. (See article on "judging," page 8.) Granting it is possible for me to have faulty understanding doesn't change this principle. I still must act in keeping with my knowledge and conscience (Rom. 14).
I understand God's word to teach God's children desire His word, hunger for truth, and sanctify in their hearts Christ as Lord. They are not self-willed nor "party" oriented. We are fully aware that all have room for improvement along these lines but these traits reveal an attitude that must be found in all who can rightly claim God as their Father (1 Jn. 1:6-7, Jn. 8:47). This attitude, alone, does not constitute one a child of God. An honest and good heart exists before the seed is received and produces Lu. 8:15); hence a good attitude is not reason enough to consider someone as part of the heavenly family. It IS a very good reason for joint study and examination of differences in the light of the word of God.
Children of the same Father, God, are more concerned about pleasing God than in upholding their party flags. They welcome constructive criticism, making an honest effort to "prove all things; hold fast (to) good." And — they practice these traits which they expect of others. They know that neither assumption nor wearing a "Church of Christ" label makes a child of God.