Today I want to talk about an idea that was tossed out briefly in our American political circles. That is the idea of unity. Obviously that was a shorted live political idea and this blog is not a political one. But what it made me think about is the current disunity in the body of Christ. This is important as we continue to look at what it means to lead as a Christian in the current culture.
You don’t have to look far to see this disunity. I want to think about where this comes from and more, what would unity look like – or at least the beginning of unity. Also I’m not talking today about the thousands of denominations. I have strong opinions on that but for today let’s phrase it this way; Assuming our denominational divisions how can we have a more unified front in our western culture. Even then some aren’t going to like my answers but that’s nothing new for me. Ha!
Let’s start with a couple of the main causes of our disunity.
First of all, too many Christians, including leaders, have placed ideology above the whole mission of Christ. A previous post touched on this issue. We become about one particular issue or idea. We don’t aim at the whole of Christ but instead at one or another of His teachings. There are lots of reasons this is bad. First, it makes an idol out of that one issue. Second since this issue is the idol it makes it harder to love the people who are in disagreement with me on this issue or even not as passionate about it as me, including other believers. The lesser good (ending racism, ending abortion, fighting for a freer society, caring for the poor, etc) becomes the whole instead of the part of the whole. This obviously creates division.
Secondly this ideology becomes our mission. Instead of leading people to Jesus and making disciples (which I hear almost no one – as in nobody – talking about) the other things become the main mission. So we have different missions. And on top of that our “missions” don’t look very different from secular missions. And our nation is extremely divided by some of these missions. Rather than leading those in the secular culture to the whole, we are just choosing sides in their narrative. Not good. More division results.
Finally we don’t take individual responsibly or corporate accountability for our holiness. Some Christians have changed what holiness is. Some haven’t changed what they say, just what they do. Both completely blow any sort of idea that the Christian is different than the world. And that just leads to more lack of unity.
So what would it look like to begin to have unity?
The first and most important thing is for leaders, and the average Christian, to aim at the highest good which is Jesus. We need to stop using Jesus to back up our ideology. We need to put forth the whole truth of Jesus above and beyond our particular hot button issues. I’m not saying we ignore them. By no means! What I’m suggesting is that Jesus and His truth as a whole are capable of addressing all of them. We need to put Him on the throne, not our ideology. This is what separates us from world’s plans. Otherwise we are just letting the world lead and using Jesus where it’s convenient. We need to be inconvenient. Jesus certainly was.
Keeping the whole out front also allows us to love our brothers and sisters who don’t share the same emphasis as us. They aren’t our enemy because we share the same whole aim.
Secondly we must recapture the idea of mission. We must actually care if people come to know and follow Jesus. That has to be our goal. That is literally the great commission. We do all that we do to advance and grow the Kingdom. We don’t take care of the poor just because it’s our ideology. We do it because it demonstrates the kingdom and leads the poor towards Jesus. We don’t fight for the unborn only because their life is sacred but also because it shows people God cares about the least of human life and we want everyone to know Jesus. We don’t care about the environment just because it’s where we live but because we are charged from the first book in the bible to steward creation. We don’t stand against racism just because it’s evil but because we are all created in God’s image and we want all people (read all!) to know Jesus and follow Him. Mission creates unity.
Third, we have to act. Not just preach or make videos responding to every cultural event or virtue signal our righteousness online or argue over how the secular government should behave. For the love! If we would all go do it, we wouldn’t have to do any of the above.
Finally, we must pursue holiness. Holiness gives you a platform. It makes you stand out. It probably brings persecution in one form or another. It points to the final kingdom. The fight for our own holiness keeps us from being self righteous. We have to corporately fight for each other’s holiness as well. We have to be accountable and we have to not compromise on it. I’m not suggesting not having grace and forgiveness. I’m suggesting not excusing, hiding or allowing unholiness.
This is biblical by the way. If you read Paul’s letters I think they could be summed up in this way (beyond following Jesus that is). That is Paul implores the churches to two things. Unity and Holiness. They go together. Unity of mission and holiness while on mission.
Obviously we won’t ever do all of this perfectly or all the time. But we have to recognize where we are falling and refocus or it will get worse. A lot worse. So if you want to lead, focus here: Aim at the main thing, Aim at the right mission, Aim at personal holiness.