THE NECESSITY OF UNITY
“In necessary things unity; in uncertain things liberty; in all things charity”
– Marco Antonio de Dominis, 1617
Humans like their tribes. We feel safe, accepted, and have a sense of belonging when we know who is on our team. This has never been more clear than in our current social-media saturated world of “us” vs. “them.” Everyone is in a constant state of choosing a side. I will cheer for, and even defend, complete strangers if they attended my alma mater. I am skeptical and critical of anyone who isn’t a Star Wars fan. (Given the chance, I will try to convert the uncivilized with an original trilogy marathon.)
“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even Gentiles do the same?” – Matthew 5:46-47
Unity is necessary because the world is full of tribes. Some of those tribes are pretty good at being nice to the people who are like them and are nice to them. But that’s natural whether we’re Christians or not. But Jesus wants us to live supernaturally! Examples of supernatural living are choosing to be kind to, relating to, and even fellowshipping with people who are different from ourselves.
We all know that God wants His people to maintain supernatural unity with other Christians, even if they aren’t in our “tribe” because of the clothes they wear, music they listen to, sports team they cheer for, movies they watch, people they vote for, etc. We need to start seeing others through the lens of the Kingdom of God and not through the lens of our personal preferences if we’re going to achieve that kind of unity.
UNITY IS OUR WITNESS
“You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” – Matthew 5:13a, 14
Tribalism creates a bland, homogenous world where everything tastes the same. When we maintain unity, even when it’s hard, even when it’s messy, we are the salt of the earth. Division is darkness, and so is cancel culture.
The Kingdom of God is counter-cultural and shines light into the darkness. We don’t have to rely on the Holy Spirit to be fearful and patronizing of those who are different from us. We can be critical and offended in our flesh all by ourselves. We can ostracize everyone we disagree with without any help from the Holy Spirit. And when we act in those ways, we look just like the world.
TRIBALISM IS FALSE UNITY
We just CANNOT allow the world’s tribalism to infect us in the church. We must actively work against the things that divide us. God’s idea of unity is found in diversity, not sameness. When we abide in Jesus, and He in us, we can refuse to take the bait of self-righteousness and choose to give grace when our unity is threatened. When we do, we’ll look so different that the world will sit up and take notice.
GIVING EACH OTHER FREEDOM
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians 4:3-6 NIV
Our oneness is not about the music we listen to or the clothes we wear or the movies we watch or our denominational labels. The only sameness in our oneness is that we are ALL saved by the SAME God and the SAME Cross. We are on the SAME mission together in the world. We have the SAME Bible to help us grow and learn. We have been given the SAME Holy Spirit to help us preserve our unity and faith, even if we are different in every other way.
So, let’s focus on what makes us ONE Christian family without losing our diversity.