Likewise, Chan believes that a significant part of the church’s problem with unity is that we know a lot of biblical information, but that knowledge is not changing our hearts or our lives. He said, “When I graduated seminary, I had so much information in this brain, so much biblical information, but I didn’t know any of it.”
But there are issues that Christians should divide over—so how do we know when to take a stand for the truth? Chan believes it is difficult to use Scripture to justify dividing over anything other than the gospel. “I know the gospel has to be clear,” he said, “but how far beyond that…most of the things that are referred to are sin issues that are cause for the separation.”
Jethani was curious what Chan thought about Black church leaders and members leaving predominantly white churches over their concerns about race. Jethani observed that these people had been leaving such churches quietly, but leaders like Jemar Tisby are now encouraging Black leaders and churchgoers to “leave loud.” As a biblical basis for this, Jethani pointed to Galatians 2, where Paul publicly opposed Peter when the latter refused to associate with Gentiles.
First, Chan said that he does not see race as “just a secondary thing, depending on how you’re looking at it.” Ephesians 2 tells us that Jew and Gentile are reconciled through Jesus’ death. God calls us to be “perfectly one,” so “if there’s any racial thing that’s dividing us, this [disunity] is the one place in Scripture that we’re taught we can actually grieve God.”
So Chan would say, yes, there is a time for believers to follow Paul’s example of publicly confronting Peter. But the only one way we will know whether that time has come is if we are living in the posture Chan described earlier in the podcast.
“There’s a time for [separating from other believers],” said Chan, “but you won’t know that unless you are deeply in the presence of God, humbled before him. If not, you’re going to go by your emotions, your feelings and what you’ve been told.”
The bottom line? We must fight for both truth and unity in the church, but our pursuit of each must come from “having been in this deep, deep place with God in his presence, deeply humbled before the throne, blown away by him.”