With all the Bible says about unity, you’d think Christians would be the most unified people on earth, but that generally isn’t the case. Christians are fully enlisted in the culture war over COVID-19, political parties, and education. On any given day, Christians in the U.S. are twice as likely to open Facebook as their Bible on a daily basis, according to Lifeway Research. The result is people leaving their churches because of polarizing issues.
So how can Christians remain united when we disagree so strongly about cultural issues? Three ways:
1. In Essentials: Unity
Essentially, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. What is the essential main thing? Ephesians 4:4-6 lists seven essentials that add up to the main thing which can keep us unified: “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” One body means one universal church, not several divisions. There is one Spirit unifying the one body. There is one hope for salvation and heaven, and that hope is in one Lord: Jesus. There’s only one faith we’ve been called to believe and one baptism we’re called to do because there is one God the Father who has adopted us all. And when we’ve been adopted by the same father, it means we belong to one family. We can stay one united family by devoting ourselves to these essentials over any current event or cultural battle.
2. In Non-Essentials: Liberty
One of my church’s values is that, “It’s not a church for me, it’s not a church for you, it’s a church for us.” That means we have unity without having uniformity in all issues. We have Democrats and Republicans eating at the same table because we give each other freedom to have different viewpoints about abortion, sexuality, gender roles, race theories, parenting, evolution, elections, vaccines, music, media, masks, mandates, and whether or not a hot dog counts as a sandwich. I have a strong stance on some of these issues, and I can back them up with Scriptures, but the Bible overall commands me to be humble and unified more than prideful and right about non-essential issues: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
3. In All Things: Charity
The Bible commands us to be charitable with people we disagree with: “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). Why should we be charitable towards our political and cultural enemies? Because Jesus Christ was charitable towards us when we were his enemies. When we were stuck in pride and wrongness, he humbled himself and willingly died a criminal’s death to give us a gift we don’t deserve and didn’t earn. Philippians 2:1-2 says, “If there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” That means if Jesus had affection and sympathy for you, if you’ve found encouragement and comfort from his love, if you have participation with the Holy Spirit, then you can find the motivation to be unified in the essentials, give liberty in non-essentials, and be charitable in all things with all people.
If you disagree with me about any of this, that’s OK. I still love you, and I’m praying God’s best for you. If you have a prayer request for me and my prayer team, please share it with us at www.newspirit.church/prayer.