This question is, I believe, a very important one, and one which isn’t being asked much at all in my opinion. As Christians I don’t think anyone would say unity is not important, in fact just ask Christians what draws down God’s blessing and unity will be right up there if not the most important thing.
So why are we so disunited. This is also an easy question to answer because we all know the reason is that we don’t agree on certain issues. Now while it is an easy question to answer it is not a easy problem to fix, but I would at least like to open up some dialogue around this issue.
On a tangent this question has been haunting me; you know how we have always said that once the Gospel is preached to every tongue and every tribe on the earth, then the End can come, then Jesus can come. If that’s the criteria, we are almost there due to the advances in technology and communication. But what if He doesn’t come, then what do we do? What if Jesus will only come when his Church is united? Then He may never come? How important is the question of unity?
It seems to me the question of unity is almost an embarrassing question for Christians because we know we should be, but we aren’t so it’s best to live in some sort of denial and busy our churches with other, very worthwhile, causes that we can fix.
I think one of the reasons we can’t solve the issue is that we have made the basis for our unity a common or shared belief system. We see ourselves as defenders of God’s truth, we can’t water it down with words like tolerance or compromise, so we feel justified when we break off relationships to protect Gods word and keep it pure. (Does this approach not make us, and not God himself, the judges of what is truth?)
It’s like when I was planting a church just outside Los Angeles, we decided to have a Super Bowl Party as a way to reach out to our friends who weren’t Christians. However it was not long before someone asked whether we should allow people to drink alcohol at the party. Sadly because the group wasn’t prepared to have alcohol the party never happened. Talk about self-defeating.
So here is my contribution towards unity, however small it is. Instead of making our beliefs the basis for unity, can we make Jesus our basis for unity and his self sacrificial love the way/evidence we use to practice this unity with each other. How would that look?
I am not saying we all have to leave our congregations, denominations or movements. To do that would be too complicated, messy and take too long. Rather could we reach across our boundaries and share Jesus with each other. Can we lay down our agenda’s and our desires and instead love each other? It will be difficult, so much of our identities are tied to the beliefs and congregations, denominations or movements. I hope we can follow Jesus, leaving behind our “Jerusalem’s”, to our own golgotha, joining Jesus in a display of self-sacrificing love for all to see.