Unity or Else… (but not for the pragmatic reasons you think)

Church unity is not a message I ever thought I would associate myself with. I had always felt, and seen demonstrated that to be in unity and/or submission with/to the church or organization in which you are raised is all that God requires. For my part, I have valued that loyalty, continue to value it, and have seen its honorable rewards. The biblical local church is indeed where life happens: Discipleship, Partnership, Worship and Love. So, with my focus on this, I used to categorize most messages about unity with the larger church as largely idealistic rants born not of spiritual inspiration, but mostly as the good intentions of men, resulting instead to an unnatural uniformity if not an outright dilution of Godly convictions. Can you relate?

After preaching about this however, and continuing to discover more on the subject from the Word, prayer, and feedback with pastors at our conference, I am more convinced than ever that we are missing something of God’s design for the church in the current paradigm. Before you either accept or reject what I am saying, agree with me first that we, for better or worse, are fully immersed in the status quo. The idea that the church be reformed after the New Testament design set out by Christ and Paul is 2-3 steps foreign to our ‘market-me-first’ driven culture. Even those who get it and long for it have yet to see a breakthrough. It is not an easy picture to convey, and the nature of man and the world works against any constant recasting a prophetic call for our cooperation in God’s vision.

That’s right. GOD’s vision for THE church. Take a look at some key scriptures: John 17:22(Christ’s big prayer request) and the entire jist of Ephesians. When you read this, you have to come away realizing that God’s vision is quite different from ours. It is we that stray toward individual kingdom building. We concern ourselves with individual and small group victories, which are of course important, but how often do we concern ourselves with the victory that God is seeking in the Earth? Evangelism, prayer, para-church organization building all have their place, but none of these can substitute for fulfilling God’s clearly stated goal of building the ‘one-body’ biblical church.

Now, there is indeed many practical arguments for unity that we have all heard and some of us have made: “We gotta hang together, lest we hang separately”; “Imagine the message our unity would speak to a world in need”; “If we can unite on these issues, we will make a powerful voting block”. You might have thought these would be my arguments if you just read the first three words in the headline. What should be clear beyond the fact that our nature tends against unity, is that calls for unity based in power, pragmatism or politics never works. This is true for many reasons of course, with the chief of these being that God simply doesn’t like us unifying for the wrong reasons. (Anybody remember the tower of Babel?)

Joshua and I discussed the recent reports we posted on the terrible violence against the church in India. The upside of this tragic injury to the church has been that the church is gathering as never before. Good, right? Well, not entirely. Some of the gatherings shifted from being about prayer, and about being the church, to some rising up and calling for the formation of a christian political party. Some even have called for retaliation against Hindu’s in these gatherings. Despite the understandable pain of loss and a reasonable passion for justice to prevail, isn’t the strategy of darkness obvious here? Gather, gather, gather indeed. But do it to honor God and rejoice that you are considered worthy to suffer for His name. This is how God calls us to shine as a remarkable witness to His glory as the overcoming church.

So, in closing, what is this ‘else’ I refer to in the headline? No, it is not a threat to bring harm to any of my readers. :-) What the else is is a condition. It is the condition we find ourselves in in this generation along with many prior generations. It is a chronic disunity that we have learned to call normal, glossing over the scriptures that call us to account. By the Spirit of God, I am calling the Church to a deep repentance to return to obedience to the heavenly vision.

Church leaders, please join in.

2 Comments to “Unity or Else… (but not for the pragmatic reasons you think)”

  1. Summer Says:

    Well put! I think most Christians have wrestled with the disunity among the church, but feel powerless to do anything about it. Well, perhaps that’s because we are. :) But God is not!!! A new commitment to prayer for unity is appropriate, and something I will do.

  2. Christ Gate International » Blog Archive » Celebrating the Resurrection amisdt the Larger Church Says:

    [...] time of wrestling over the issue, I am liberated. I have had the clear idea for a while, since the last pastors conference we did in 2008, that the Church needs to really become one. Walking that out on a practical level, when so much of [...]

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