Disunity is growing.
Unity seems elusive today, even within the Body of Christ. Over and over Paul reminds us about the importance of unity in his letters and yet there is still a growing disunity among Christians.
That could be due to a misunderstanding about what unity actually is. Often, we define unity as agreement with each other, instead of defining it through the lens of a common identity we share.
There is a framework for unity.
The book of Ephesians gives us a beautiful framework for biblical unity, through the reconciliation of two opposing groups of Christians: the Jews and the Gentiles. Both groups operated from vastly different perspectives, had different histories and were most often antagonistic toward each other (Ephesians 2).
As these two groups came together, they struggled through class issues, culture issues, gender issues and religious worship issues and so much more. Paul reframes the picture for each group saying they are now joined to each other through a new identity, as a new humanity on earth via their citizenship together in the Kingdom of God. Did you get that? God joins together people who are different, gives them a common identity, and makes them citizens together – and that’s how God STILL brings about unity today.
Unity is an identity in community.
Unity is not about everyone agreeing or becoming the same or even doing the same things, but rather it has everything to do with our identity in Jesus Christ. If you are a follower of Jesus, you are united with Him and everyone else who is His follower, not just the ones you like or the ones that are like you.
That truth is key in understanding our role in living out unity, which means that:
- In Christ — the Christian Trump supporter and the Christian Biden supporter are already united.
- In Christ—the White Christian, the Hispanic Christian and the Black Christian are already united.
- In Christ—the Catholic, the Orthodox, the Protestant and the Charismatic are already united.
Because of this reality, we have to forsake all other primary allegiances and live out our identity in Christ as our primary allegiance to each other, and truly understand that our identity is communal, not merely just an individual one. If we treat our “different from us” brother or sister in Christ poorly, we are treating the whole Body and Jesus Himself poorly. Yikes!
Our flesh always wants to focus on our differences and sometimes we actually think it’s righteous, but don’t be deceived because it’s not. The Word of God always brings the focus back to what we have in common, which is this – we are family, already one unit, in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4). When we choose to surrender our Kingdom identity to a cultural one, we usurp the authority of Jesus over us.
So let’s just stop doing that, ok?