“It seems that the emphasis of the word ‘church’ in its Christian context is upon the relationship of people to each other, due to their common relationship to God through Christ.” ~ Arthur Harrington, What The Bible Says About Leadership
We often hear, "Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship." This, for the most part, is a true statement. What Jesus offers to us is not a set of rules and regulations which will bring us to God, but rather He offers Himself. It is through a relationship (loving Him, trusting Him, obeying Him, loving people) with Jesus that we are able to be brought near to God.
While we are able to see the truth of this cliché we have a hard time living it out. Rather we make Christianity a religion about doctrine and tradition. Don't get me wrong, correct doctrine is necessary and some traditions are very important, but we can allow these things to overshadow what is most important. The most important things in Christianity are relationships. It begins with our relationship with God, it continues with our relationships with other Christians, which then spills into the world.
The most important part of ministry is our relationship with God. Henry Blackaby in Experiencing God wrote; "The constant presence of God is the most practical part of your life and ministry" (pg. 55). So how do we have the presence of God in our lives? I think it comes down to inviting God be part of our lives every day, seeking His guidance through pray and Bible Study, and to obey God’s will. We will only do that if having a relationship with God is the most important part of our lives.
This is what the apostle John wrote:
This is the message he has given us to announce to you: God is light and there is darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness. We are not living in the truth. But if we are living in the light of God's presence, just as Christ is, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin. (1 John 1:5-7; NLT)
John reminds us that the reason we can have fellowship, the reason for unity in the Body of Christ, is because of our relationship to Jesus. When a relationship with Jesus is the most important aspect of our lives we are able to focus on what we have in common and overcome the differences that come along the way.
Christians are not united by believing we all believe exactly the same thing; we are united because of Jesus. We need make our relationship with Jesus the most important aspect in our lives. I think we also need to pray the prayer for unity, like the one Jesus prayed the night He was betrayed (John 17:11). Remember our source of unity is found in our common relationship to Christ Jesus. We may disagree about some doctrinal issues, but if we share a common commitment to Jesus then we are family.