We’re polarized over political tribalism. We’re separated by our doctrines. We’re scattered apart by our differences.
It’s nothing new, but at least there was a time when our leaders would fight for unity and work hard to mend wounds and heal the divide.
Not much anymore.
I spent a few weekends last year speaking at churches in Texas and California hoping to speak to our division and work at restoring unity in the Body of Christ.
Sadly, only a handful of churches were interested in having this sort of dialog.
Now all I can see is a Church that is moving farther and farther apart, without much hope for reconciliation between brothers and sisters in Christ.
If we look at the epistles of Paul in the New Testament we’ll see that divisions were a problem even at the earliest stages of the Christian faith.
Christians in Corinth divided over which Apostle they favored. Christians in Rome were divided over Sabbath observation. Some wanted to eat only vegetables. Others thought it was ok to eat meat. Still others felt it was wrong to eat meat sacrificed to idols.
Here’s what I find fascinating in these examples: Paul never urged these Christians to find unity in agreement over these various disagreements. Not at all. He in fact famously said: “let everyone be convinced in their own mind” over these issues. Yet, Paul urged them to fight for unity as brothers and sisters in Christ.
So, here’s what that means for us: Unity isn’t dependent upon agreement. Unity is all about our oneness in Christ.
See, today, we have accepted the false notion that unity is all about agreement. If we agree then we have unity. But this isn’t the case. Because, as we can see from the examples of the early Church, agreement isn’t really possible.
Why? Because Christians are always going to have different opinions and perspectives. We’re human. This is how we’re wired. Paul doesn’t even make any attempt to get these people to all agree about which view is “True” or which opinion is “Right.” Instead, he reminds them of what unites them in the first place: Christ!He asks the divided Christians in Corinth: “Was Appollos crucified for you? Did Peter rise from the dead for you?”
And, of course, the answer is “No”, but the question points to a larger reality – Christ is what we all agree on.
So, when Christ is our center and our focus, we have unity.
The minute we place anything else at the center of our focus – boom – instant division.
If we could get back to this simple truth – the idea that our unity is in Christ and that it’s ok to have fellowship with people who aren’t exactly like us – then maybe we can see our way back to a place of unity.
But, based on what I’ve seen so far, we just seem really addicted to being “right” and proving that others are “wrong” and our allegiance and loyalty is more to our particular tribe than to Christ.
Still, I have to hold out hope that one day, maybe someday soon, we just might wake up from our narrow-minded insistence on agreement and shift over to an open-minded embrace of unity based on our shared love of Christ.
Here’s to hope.
Are you interested in seeking unity in your Church? If so, I invite you to register for “United We Stand:Healing Our Political Divide” – a 3 week course through BeADisciple.com that I’m teaching online. Classes start Monday, Feb. 10. REGISTER HERE>
Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife have returned to El Paso, TX after 25 years, as part of their next adventure. They hope to start a new house church very soon.
Want Keith to come speak at your church or in your home town? Send an invitation HERE