A National Association of Evangelicals' survey found that Christian leaders believe the American Church needs unity most after the 2020 election.
In November, the NAE's monthly survey asked Christian leaders of colleges, missions, publishers, churches and denominations the question: "What are the needs of the American church in a post-election season?"
Leaders provided many answers, but unity was the biggest necessity, the survey found. NAE President Walter Kim told The Christian Post that over 140 Christian leaders were contacted to take part in the survey.
“Our country is in desperate need of unity. Without it, America will be unable to tackle the enormous challenges that so many people now face. I believe that there is no better means of creating that unity than to proclaim the Gospel in both word and deed,” National Commander of The Salvation Army, Kenneth Hodder, told the NAE as part of its survey.
In the past two presidential elections, unity proved as popular among winners as it was unpopular among losers.
After seeing the 2020 election turn in his favor, President-elect Joe Biden called for unity. President Donald Trump said the 2020 election was “rigged.” When Trump won the presidency in 2016, he also called for unity. After losing the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton claimed the election was “stolen” from her.
Kim said that unity has become more important as the United States has become more divided. Christians should value and prioritize unity because Jesus begged God for it in His last prayer in Gethsemane, he added.
“Clearly, we have encountered and are still encountering a tremendous amount of polarization," Kim told CP. "It’s not simply a matter of the life that we share together as Americans, but it’s central to the heart of the Gospel. Jesus prayed for the unity of believers."
Unity means neither conflict avoidance within groups or expelling people who don’t share a group’s views, Kim stressed. Those approaches create “false unity.” Instead, unity should mean working to understand each other and discussing differences.
On issues like abortion, Christians should understand that situations are complex and that policy solutions often have many perspectives, said Kim. Some people want to stop abortion by outlawing it. Others want to eliminate poverty and despair so that women don’t feel like abortion is their only option. Still, others want to change Americans' attitudes toward sexual morality so people don’t continue to have sex out of wedlock. All of these perspectives have value, he said.
“It’s really a complicated issue when we think about abortion. There is the very specific issue of the murder of unborn children, but there’s also the factors that lead up to those conditions,” he said.
Even in cases where fellow Christians believe that women have a right to kill their unborn babies, people should still try to live in fellowship, Kim said. Christians are called to reach unbelievers who disagree with them, and they should display the same care for people within the Body of Christ.
“It is possible to profoundly disagree on issues and yet somehow have a relationship,” Kim said. “[Imagine people saying,] 'Wow, there are Republicans and Democrats that are worshiping together, and they’re not ignoring their deep differences on policy issues or issues that relate to their own doctrine, but somehow they’re making it work?' That would be a great witness.”
Excommunicating people from the Church because they support sin should be an action of last resort, Kim emphasized. Although church leaders in the New Testament expelled people from the Church in some cases, it shouldn’t be the first option.
“We are finding ourselves in a political and social environment where excommunicating those who disagree is a much earlier option than scripture would call us to. This notion in Corinthians of expel the wayward brother is a matter of absolute last resort,” Kim explained.
Sin within Christians is the real enemy, not any outside threat or group, he said. By announcing this truth, the Gospel shows believers that they are in community with the entire world.