I’ve been bothered for some time at our (the “Christian” church or community) feeble human efforts at creating a move of God or a blessing from God based on “coming together” and/or “getting along with each other”. Is this really the purpose of “church”? Is unity something that we should strive for? What if the answer is… Well… NO?! Gulp!
You see I, personally, have never seen a church focused on unity ever become united. I’ve never even read about such a phenomenon. Oooo, are you shocked? Do you protest? Am I a madman? Are you and I unified right now? The answer to the last question may surprise you because YES, you can feel all of those things about me on a personal level and still be united with me. WHAT?!
Yes, it’s true, we can agree to disagree on a personality, philosophical or theological level and still be unified. How??! Simple: IF you and I place our focus on our Lord, Savior, Friend and King – Jesus, then we are united! Ah-hah! Gotcha!
Now, obviously, it can’t be some over-the-top spiritual act – we must truly be sincere (HE knows)… But if it IS real – and we’re 100% with Him (heart, soul, mind & strength) then we’re ONE! Are you smiling?
Do you love Him more than anything?! Yeah?!! Then, we’re unified!! You see I believe that unity is a by-product of individuals focusing on Christ and not each other. It seems that church leadership across the board has become paranoid about who isn’t in unity rather than confidently finding ourselves in the presence of others totally focused on Christ. Because if each one of us is totally focused on Christ – then, we are obviously unified in purpose. And IF others aren’t focused on Christ – does it matter? Do you notice? I guess it depends on “who” you’re looking at doesn’t it? As individuals, we will never see eye-to-eye on everything — that’s ok — community, relationship, loyalty and certainly “church” are not based on 100% agreement. That would be creepy (like a cult). Instead, we simply agree that Jesus IS Lord and stay busy loving Him & loving others!
Look at what A.W. Tozer said:
“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshippers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become unity conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship. Social religion is perfected when private religion is purified. The body becomes stronger as its members become healthier. The whole church of God gains when the members that compose it begin to seek a better and a higher life.”
Yes, yes, YES; the focus is on Jesus Christ and NOT everyone else. We must look up not around! And the result: unity… Authentic, natural and loving unity that is continually free not forced, instinctive not institutional, sincere not structured, made for ministry not minister-made, and joyful!
You see, the church does not exist for the people religiously sitting, side-by-side, on padded pews each Sunday morning. The church must be turned inside out IF it’s ever to be effective! William Tyndale, one of our church fathers seems to agree: “The Church is the one institution that exists for those outside it.” Soldiers are always united when sharing a foxhole in a war because they share a cause worth dying for and are confident in their Commander. They don’t become united sharing a bunk at the base.
For unity to happen, as God intended, there must be one and ONLY one common denominator: our passionate, whole-hearted, head-over-heels love of Jesus Christ!! You can’t just “come together” for the sake of unity, you must come together for Christ, and the result… You got it…
Jesus affirms this in HIS Word (here’s your homework):
John 6:22-59 – unity with others based on our connection with Christ;
John 15:1-15 – unity with others (branches) depends on being rooted in Him;
Romans 11:1-24 – unity will never be perfected until Heaven;
Ephesians 4:11-16 – unity embraces diversity in body IF Christ is the head;
Philippians 1:3-11 – unity abounds through love of Christ, which naturally loves others;
Philippians 2:1-11 – unity shows on healthy believers & grows through service;
Colossians 1:16-23 – unity is not man-made; there’s only ONE head;
Colossians 2:18-19 – unity can be corrupted & tainted IF “man” gets his way.
~This list could go on & on & on…
So, am I saying seek disunity? Of course not… But, what I am saying is seeking unity won’t make unity happen… Jesus said, “The thing you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what God wants. Then all these other things you need will be given to you” Matthew 6:33 (NCV). Need unity? Then, seek HIM… period. This doesn’t mean that we don’t have to live in peace with others or forgive the offenses of others – trust me, as you seek HIM, these things become requirements. When you’re HIS disciples, you naturally love one another (John 13:35) But, doing these things alone, without making Christ FIRST, are rarely sincere or lasting.
Friends, God loves you so much. He wants you to be healthy (inside & out) and he loves those people in & around your life more than you ever will. Refuse to focus on who is against you and instead focus on WHO is FOR YOU. His name is Jesus and through Him you can live at peace with all others… Thus, the “church unity myth” is exposed.