What’s Our Basis for Unity?

While recently listening to an audio version of Matthew 17, I was somewhat puzzled by one statement. Descending the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus instructs his inner circle to not tell anyone about the event until after His resurrection. Why?

Representatives of the law and the prophets—Moses and Elijah—appeared to Jesus at this time. Peter thought it was a good idea to erect temples for all three of them. Was he implying that the law and the prophets were equally important alongside Jesus’ “Kingdom of heaven” message? A voice quickly breaks through the clouds and God makes it quite clear that Jesus is greater than the law or the prophets. Everyone should listen only to Him.

Before His resurrection Jesus was living in an Old Testament era. He lived by Jewish rules and regulations set down by the law and the prophets even while introducing a new Kingdom paradigm. This Kingdom involved both new wine (truth perspectives) and new wineskins (systems). Yet it wasn’t until after Jesus conquered death that He had completely fulfilled the law and His disciples were able to begin a new movement we now call the Church.

The Church has always struggled however, with what to do with the Old Testament; it’s been a constant source of disunity. A church council meeting in Acts 15 decides to drop circumcision yet requires early believers to abstain from food sacrificed to idols and bloody meat. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, a curse is placed on those who returned to the law after walking the road of grace paved with saving faith in Christ alone.

Today I observe that many Christians still disunite over issues of law rather than uniting on the fundamentals of our Christian faith. Instead of using the Apostle’s Creed as a foundational starting point, the practical approach is to first observe how similar one is in culture and practice. If there is alignment in “the details” people feel comfortable in working and worshiping together.

After living in Southeast Asia for over ten years I personally believe there are various ways to apply God-given truth and principles. Take diversity in culture for example. Most people would agree that much of it is generally neither good nor bad, just different. In fact, much of it is a matter of preference. Everyone believes in satisfying their hunger. Some do so with rice and beans while others with steak and potatoes. Most people also believe in wearing clothes; some put on robes and turbans while others attire in jeans and t-shirts.

This makes me ask some questions: Are some of our practical applications (doctrines and laws) simply based on preferences (or our interpretative lenses) and not necessarily in contradiction to others’ applications of the same principles? Do we sometimes incorrectly assume that someone is disobedient to God’s Word when in reality they are living out the same principle with another form of application?

In terms of God’s Word, which parts of the law and the prophets should we obey today? Some would say everything but certain aspects of the ceremonial law. If so, do we follow to the letter of the law all aspects of the civil and moral laws set forth in the Old Testament? If so, how is this determined?

Should you plant more than one type of seeds in your garden (Deuteronomy 22:9)? Should you wear clothes made with two types of material (Deuteronomy 22:11)? If your brother dies should you marry his wife (Deuteronomy 25:5)? Should you abstain from medium-rare steaks off the grill (Leviticus 19:26)? And what about tattoos—should you forbid them and condemn anyone who wears one (Leviticus 19:28)?

I could list many more Old Testament laws and no doubt receive a vast number of opinions in response. Take the last one I mentioned—currently a controversial issue for many. I personally dislike tattoos. But on what basis can I judge someone who wears one?

We’re living in the post-resurrection church era. Jesus foresaw our struggle to get along with each other and prayed about it passionately. Especially noteworthy are His prayers for unity in John 17; it’s mentioned four times!

A wise German Lutheran theologian by the name of Rupertus Meldenius once said, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” So let me ask you: Is the Apostle’s Creed enough for you to unite with other believers—God’s children whom you will spend eternity with? Can you pray, worship, and work alongside another person who holds to the fundamentals of your faith? Why or why not?

Luke Kuepfer | July 11, 2011
  • David July 11, 2011 at 11:05 am
    Thanks for the great article Luke. You ask some thought provoking questions.
    • thetruthmadesimple July 11, 2011 at 11:19 am
      Thanks Dave...I can't say I have the best answers to solve the denominational/disunity issues...however, some questions need to first be pondered before we can seek good answers.
      • Marv July 11, 2011 at 12:52 pm
        I have often wondered why many will pick and chose verses from the old and build on them.I believe the old is history and points to Jesus, the one coming to save man kind from the curse of sin. -- marvin
        • thetruthmadesimple July 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm
          Great point Marv...we all have our hobby horses when it comes to scripture. We also tend to judge people's weaknesses based on our strengths...or our perception of their disobedience to certain scriptures based on our obedience to others. The Baptists think everyone needs to be more into evangelism (and they've got great basis for it!) and some other hand-picked doctrines, the Charismatics believe everyone needs to move more in the Spirit (and they also have great basis for it!) and some other hand-picked doctrines, the Mennonites believe everyone should practice non-violence (and yes, they also have some great basis for it!) and several other hand-picked teachings...I could go on... :-) Everything points to Jesus and all our doctrines should also make us more like Christ...which when it doesn't happen is confusing to those outside the faith! Gandhi said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Let me close with Jesus' words: "By this will all men know that you are My disciples by your love one for another."
  • Justin July 11, 2011 at 12:53 pm
    I will really enjoy pondering some of these questions, Luke. Thanks for taking the time to write and address them.
  • Kaye July 11, 2011 at 7:43 pm
    Thanks, Luke, for another thought-provoking article. AND for tracking down who really coined the "...in all things..." quote. Funny how we often get stuck trying to even agree which things are essential or not.
    • thetruthmadesimple July 12, 2011 at 10:23 am
      I think Kaye that we'll experience different levels of unity with different folks...the more we hold in common the more we'll feel united--but that shouldn't prevent us from unity with other believers who aren't exactly like us. What's really sad is when Christians have nothing to do with each other because of nuance rather than uniting on the basics of their faith and working from that point forward...ie. they choose a wrong starting point.
  • David Brubacker July 12, 2011 at 7:42 am
    I think your post deserves questioning. My wife Karen and I work with a coalition of Christians from varied perspectives, we are not in the traditional church (small 'c'), so I would like to think we have a glimpse of the big picture. Yet we fiercely, unapologetically, and unashamedly cling to what we find taught in Scripture. We don't have everything figured out as far as relating to other Christians who don't espouse our values. There are fundamentals that we teach whenever we get the chance: living a life of mercy (non-violence is not just a Mennonite value); directing our conversation toward spiritual matters rather than idle talk; displaying simplicity and inner beauty (the New Testament does not explicily address tattoos and jewelry as directly as the church has codified it, but it is clear that we must reflect God, not glorify our bodies, and tattoos and jewelry in many cultures is about slavery, and we must only be slaves to Christ). Many times when unity is talked about, there is an agenda. Whether it is tolerating/defending homosexuality or adultery, infant baptism, or a 'just war', is the unity being pursued for selfish purposes, or to bring glory to God?
    • thetruthmadesimple July 12, 2011 at 10:19 am
      You raise some good points David...and I would certainly agree on your last statement. We all know of those who pursue unity based on selfish purposes rather than on the glory of God...but then there are also those who excuse unity for selfish purposes (their list of pet doctrines in which they have unwittingly put their hope...this can actually result in "idolatry" even though many times the doctrines aren't wrong in and of themselves) and disregard Jesus' passion for unity in His body, thus robbing God of glory. Furthermore, regardless of some fringe folks' agenda, the body of Christ--largely fragmented today--has more to work on in terms of coming together than continuing the craziness we've typically observed. Regarding your list of fundamentals I would say these fall into the "second things" category (while beliefs/values should not exist independently of each other the one should provide an anchor, a focus, and a context for the other)--something I picked up from one of my teachers at FBEP several years ago...for me (and I think for most Christians) the Apostle's Creed must form the basis for our unity as a body.
  • David Brubacker July 12, 2011 at 11:33 am
    I think my wording was poor in using 'fundamental' and following it with a paragraph where I also reacted to your tattoo thought. Karen and I firmly believe that mercy is a main focus of Scripture and Jesus' teaching, that mercy must guide our relationship with people. I do not think mercy is a 'second thing'. Jesus is a main feature in the Apostles Creed, and we cannot separate His teachings from our 'belief' in Him. The unmerciful guy in Matthew 18 was me, and many times still is. From the way I treat my family, to road rage, and back again to other Christians, mercy is where I must return. I think mercy is fundamental, because without it, I am destined for the treatment the unmerciful guy received--eternal punishment (another topic that could create a lot of conversation).
    • thetruthmadesimple July 12, 2011 at 11:56 am
      Thanks Dave for your response...I like your thoughts on mercy. Mercy in fact is what allows me to worship with those who are not on the same page as me but have embraced the Apostles' Creed and are moving in the same direction I am--toward Christ! I realize I have such a far way to go in so many areas of my life...my goal is to offer mercy/grace toward others regardless of their shortcomings, recognizing the log in my own eye before I begin to dismantle what may only be a speck of dust in their eye. My brother once told me that he would rather stand before God some day and be told that he was way too merciful rather than being judged for having been too judgmental. Jesus knows our tendency...remember His statement about the millstone around one's neck. I remember often hearing the statement, "hate the sin, love the sinner." Jesus didn't exactly teach that however...for Him it was "love the sinner and hate your own sin" (John 8:3-11). Our tendency is to excuse our own sin when we focus on others' sins.

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Contact MeContact Me

Let's Connect

I’d love to connect with you via email or phone. Snail mail can be sent to the address listed below.

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333 East Margaret Drive, Wilmore, KY 40390

Phone

(+1) 269.625.3400

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Logistics and Details

Select me as your speaker, and I will give you my best effort. See me as a catalyst or facilitator that will help you achieve the goals you’ve set for your event. When you win, I win. It’s as simple as that. I’m here to serve you in life’s journey!

Venue

A venue for the event should be chosen with the target audience in mind. All-day or half-day workshops are ideally hosted in rooms where food can be served and participants can gather around tables for group dialogue and breakout sessions (click on links for preferred room setup: round/long tables). All venues should be suited for multi-media presentations and wired for sound.

Once a date and presentation topic have been confirmed for an event, the venue name and address along with a contact phone number should be submitted for advertisement purposes. These will be posted in my speaking schedule and used in advertising media.

rosedale

Equipment

A room featuring a multi-media projector with 3000 lumens or greater is preferred for all events. I will use my own projector when one is not available. Please note that for most presentations and workshops I need my laptop at the front of the venue from where I’ll be speaking. My system can accommodate VGA/HDMI/DVI cables. Most of my presentations are designed for widescreen (16:9).

For audio I prefer a lapel or Countryman microphone. For presentation/video audio I can supply my own speaker for groups under 100 people. For larger groups I need an audio cable (3.5mm mini stereo) that plugs directly into my laptop.

Replace lecterns and pulpits with a small table or stand on which to place a laptop.

For workshops, have a flip chart or white board available with markers in several colors.

An eight-foot table should be available on which to place books, CDs, DVDs, and other resources for sale. Cash, checks, and credit cards are all accepted.

Fees

I do not charge a set fee when speaking at non-profit events. However, donations are welcome to support my family, cover bills, and feed my Puggle. Suggested donation amount is $500/day plus travel expenses. If I’m within 8 hours of an event I will drive (suggested reimbursement of $250), otherwise I typically fly (if within the USA, $500). I fly out of Lexington, KY and typically purchase my own tickets; a reimbursement check can be mailed to 333 East Margaret Drive, Wilmore, KY 40390.

cnx2016

I’d be delighted to come to your event and speak. I typically keep my events within a 1-3 day time period due to commitments to my family; anything over this length of time is generally reserved for international travel. Workshops can be facilitated as whole-day or half-day events. My multi-part series can be easily held over a weekend, beginning Friday night and ending Sunday morning or beginning Sunday morning and ending Monday evening.

About MeAbout Me

Speaker, author, and life coach.

Born in Ontario, Canada, I moved to El Salvador at age 4 to live as a missionary kid for three years. At age nineteen I moved to Alberta, Canada where I taught school for three years. After leading several short term teams to Asia focused on unreached people groups, I married my sweetheart Amy and lived in Northern Indiana for a year and a half. In 1997, we moved with our infant daughter Brittany to Thailand where I served as director of Global Tribes Outreach. During our ten-year stint in Southeast Asia, God blessed us with two more children—Courtney and Jamin. In 2008 we moved back to North America and bought our first house in Kentucky, USA. I acquired a Masters in Christian Leadership from Asbury Seminary in 2014 and now travel both domestically and internationally to develop leaders.

As a leadership developer and life coach I help non-profit and business leaders understand how to maximize their God-given potential to lead and serve others. I am the author of A Serving Leader’s Devotional and the President of the Reverb Network.

I’ve spoken broadly on personal & global mission, leadership, team building, and numerous Biblical subjects over the last 20 years on four continents and numerous states and provinces in the USA and Canada.

I am committed to a Biblical worldview and dedicated to motivating the church toward missional thinking and practice in all areas of life. I believe that everyone has a God-given purpose to love and serve others like Jesus. I firmly believe that having our thinking challenged is not enough; it must be translated into change.

MY STORY

I have heard from other staff members who agree with me, this was one of the best/productive workshops we've attended.

Dan Domer
Staff Member, Covenant Church, Winterville, NC

Your talk rocked my world.  

Qian Wang
Perspectives Student, College Station, TX

Luke Kuepfer’s high-energy presentation of the material was delightful, articulate, and profound! If you are looking for a fresh and life-changing look at Jesus’ servant leadership model, look no further! Give Luke a call!

Don Showalter
President, Hearts Alive!

Luke is a dynamic speaker with the gift of clearly articulating Biblical truths in an easy-to-understand manner. He speaks in humility but with authority, and injects his message with the experience and global perspective gained from living abroad as a missionary for many years.

Santosh David Poonen
Elder, River of Life Christian Fellowship, Loveland, CO

Luke’s enthusiasm and passion for the local church and its impact in the community is inspiring. I highly recommend his teaching and ministry!  

Clarence Miller
Deacon, Sharon Mennonite Church

“Transformational” is the one word I would use to describe the seminar. Luke has a true gift in communicating God’s truths with clarity and passion.

Joe Bacher
Pastor, Foothills Fellowship Westminster, SC

Luke is enthusiastic and knowledgeable, presenting the interactive material creatively. It is a unique presentation unlike the usual “leadership seminars” taught from the front. Luke presents it with expertise, fun, and interest in each attendee.

David Livingstone
Regional Manager, North-East & Mid-Atlantic Region, The JESUS Film Project

Luke really has an incredible way of captivating everyone’s attention and making a seminar meaningful. He speaks from his heart and lives what he preaches. As a result of this Encounter we’re taking our family to Southeast Asia on a two-month mission trip with the possibility of moving there long-term.

Lloyd & Mary Ellen Esh
Pastor, New Covenant Mennonite Fellowship New Holland, PA

REVIEWS

SKILLS

Years Lived Abroad
0
Countries Visited
0
14-ers Climbed in CO
0
Places Lived
0
2014 - 2018

SPEAKER, COACH, & LEADERSHIP DEVELOPER

Presentations and workshops in both non-profit and business venues around the world on leadership, people skills, and life purpose.

2011- 2013

STUDENT @ ASBURY THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

Masters Degree in Christian Leadership.

2009 - 2010

STUDENT @ THOMAS EDISON STATE COLLEGE

Bachelor’s Degree online in Liberal Studies.

1997 - 2008

DIRECTOR @ GLOBAL TRIBES OUTREACH

Founded and served as Field Director of Global Tribes Outreach (GTO), a non-profit organization based in Southeast Asia committed to church planting and social work.

1994 - 1996

WORKER IN CONSTRUCTION AND AGRICULTURE

Floor finishing in concrete construction and equipment operator on a cash crop farm.

1990 - 1993

TEACHER @ PRAIRIE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

Taught elementary through high school students in a self-directed learning environment.

Contact MeContact Me

Let's Connect

I’d love to connect with you via email or phone. Snail mail can be sent to the address listed below.

Address

333 East Margaret Drive, Wilmore, KY 40390

Phone

(+1) 269.625.3400

Booking InfoBooking Info

Logistics and Details

Select me as your speaker, and I will give you my best effort. See me as a catalyst or facilitator that will help you achieve the goals you’ve set for your event. When you win, I win. It’s as simple as that. I’m here to serve you in life’s journey!

Venue

A venue for the event should be chosen with the target audience in mind. All-day or half-day workshops are ideally hosted in rooms where food can be served and participants can gather around tables for group dialogue and breakout sessions (click on links for preferred room setup: round/long tables). All venues should be suited for multi-media presentations and wired for sound.

Once a date and presentation topic have been confirmed for an event, the venue name and address along with a contact phone number should be submitted for advertisement purposes. These will be posted in my speaking schedule and used in advertising media.

rosedale

Equipment

A room featuring a multi-media projector with 3000 lumens or greater is preferred for all events. I will use my own projector when one is not available. Please note that for most presentations and workshops I need my laptop at the front of the venue from where I’ll be speaking. My system can accommodate VGA/HDMI/DVI cables. Most of my presentations are designed for widescreen (16:9).

For audio I prefer a lapel or Countryman microphone. For presentation/video audio I can supply my own speaker for groups under 100 people. For larger groups I need an audio cable (3.5mm mini stereo) that plugs directly into my laptop.

Replace lecterns and pulpits with a small table or stand on which to place a laptop.

For workshops, have a flip chart or white board available with markers in several colors.

An eight-foot table should be available on which to place books, CDs, DVDs, and other resources for sale. Cash, checks, and credit cards are all accepted.

Fees

I do not charge a set fee when speaking at non-profit events. However, donations are welcome to support my family, cover bills, and feed my Puggle. Suggested donation amount is $500/day plus travel expenses. If I’m within 8 hours of an event I will drive (suggested reimbursement of $250), otherwise I typically fly (if within the USA, $500). I fly out of Lexington, KY and typically purchase my own tickets; a reimbursement check can be mailed to 333 East Margaret Drive, Wilmore, KY 40390.

cnx2016

I’d be delighted to come to your event and speak. I typically keep my events within a 1-3 day time period due to commitments to my family; anything over this length of time is generally reserved for international travel. Workshops can be facilitated as whole-day or half-day events. My multi-part series can be easily held over a weekend, beginning Friday night and ending Sunday morning or beginning Sunday morning and ending Monday evening.

About MeAbout Me

Speaker, author, and life coach.

Born in Ontario, Canada, I moved to El Salvador at age 4 to live as a missionary kid for three years. At age nineteen I moved to Alberta, Canada where I taught school for three years. After leading several short term teams to Asia focused on unreached people groups, I married my sweetheart Amy and lived in Northern Indiana for a year and a half. In 1997, we moved with our infant daughter Brittany to Thailand where I served as director of Global Tribes Outreach. During our ten-year stint in Southeast Asia, God blessed us with two more children—Courtney and Jamin. In 2008 we moved back to North America and bought our first house in Kentucky, USA. I acquired a Masters in Christian Leadership from Asbury Seminary in 2014 and now travel both domestically and internationally to develop leaders.

As a leadership developer and life coach I help non-profit and business leaders understand how to maximize their God-given potential to lead and serve others. I am the author of A Serving Leader’s Devotional and the President of the Reverb Network.

I’ve spoken broadly on personal & global mission, leadership, team building, and numerous Biblical subjects over the last 20 years on four continents and numerous states and provinces in the USA and Canada.

I am committed to a Biblical worldview and dedicated to motivating the church toward missional thinking and practice in all areas of life. I believe that everyone has a God-given purpose to love and serve others like Jesus. I firmly believe that having our thinking challenged is not enough; it must be translated into change.

MY STORY

I have heard from other staff members who agree with me, this was one of the best/productive workshops we've attended.

Dan Domer
Staff Member, Covenant Church, Winterville, NC

Your talk rocked my world.  

Qian Wang
Perspectives Student, College Station, TX

Luke Kuepfer’s high-energy presentation of the material was delightful, articulate, and profound! If you are looking for a fresh and life-changing look at Jesus’ servant leadership model, look no further! Give Luke a call!

Don Showalter
President, Hearts Alive!

Luke is a dynamic speaker with the gift of clearly articulating Biblical truths in an easy-to-understand manner. He speaks in humility but with authority, and injects his message with the experience and global perspective gained from living abroad as a missionary for many years.

Santosh David Poonen
Elder, River of Life Christian Fellowship, Loveland, CO

Luke’s enthusiasm and passion for the local church and its impact in the community is inspiring. I highly recommend his teaching and ministry!  

Clarence Miller
Deacon, Sharon Mennonite Church

“Transformational” is the one word I would use to describe the seminar. Luke has a true gift in communicating God’s truths with clarity and passion.

Joe Bacher
Pastor, Foothills Fellowship Westminster, SC

Luke is enthusiastic and knowledgeable, presenting the interactive material creatively. It is a unique presentation unlike the usual “leadership seminars” taught from the front. Luke presents it with expertise, fun, and interest in each attendee.

David Livingstone
Regional Manager, North-East & Mid-Atlantic Region, The JESUS Film Project

Luke really has an incredible way of captivating everyone’s attention and making a seminar meaningful. He speaks from his heart and lives what he preaches. As a result of this Encounter we’re taking our family to Southeast Asia on a two-month mission trip with the possibility of moving there long-term.

Lloyd & Mary Ellen Esh
Pastor, New Covenant Mennonite Fellowship New Holland, PA

REVIEWS

SKILLS

Years Lived Abroad
0
Countries Visited
0
14-ers Climbed in CO
0
Places Lived
0
2014 - 2018

SPEAKER, COACH, & LEADERSHIP DEVELOPER

Presentations and workshops in both non-profit and business venues around the world on leadership, people skills, and life purpose.

2011- 2013

STUDENT @ ASBURY THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

Masters Degree in Christian Leadership.

2009 - 2010

STUDENT @ THOMAS EDISON STATE COLLEGE

Bachelor’s Degree online in Liberal Studies.

1997 - 2008

DIRECTOR @ GLOBAL TRIBES OUTREACH

Founded and served as Field Director of Global Tribes Outreach (GTO), a non-profit organization based in Southeast Asia committed to church planting and social work.

1994 - 1996

WORKER IN CONSTRUCTION AND AGRICULTURE

Floor finishing in concrete construction and equipment operator on a cash crop farm.

1990 - 1993

TEACHER @ PRAIRIE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

Taught elementary through high school students in a self-directed learning environment.