Pastor and bestselling author Francis Chan has criticized the Western Church for its lack of unity and obsession with busyness, stressing that the power and witness of the Body of Christ hinges on its oneness.
“We're not sober-minded. We are taking in so much. We have no self-control. We wake up and we just want to see what's going on,” the former California megachurch pastor told Exponential CEO Todd Wilson on Thursday.
“Right now, there’s so much noise and information and entertainment. We are so drugged up. Our minds are so messed up ... and in the Christian Church, we've become busier and busier. We try to scream louder and get more creative with the noise. I avoid a lot of that just because I'm trying to be sober-minded and self-controlled so that I can pray because I believe the end is near.”
Chan, who recently returned to the United States after spending a year church planting in Hong Kong, said that he was shocked by how much more divided the country has become over the last year.
“I don't know if it's the pandemic or just getting away from America, but you come back and you realize, ‘Wow, every individual is super opinionated and super sure of themselves and they're right and you're wrong about everything,’” Chan reflected. “It’s this overwhelming flood of opinions that we have here in the West that you almost don't realize it until you get out.”
“I do think divisions have obviously gotten much stronger and more widespread,” he said.
Chan shared that his latest book, Until Unity, was inspired by John 17, where Jesus prays for unity among the Body of Christ. Though he didn’t want to write another book, the bestselling author felt compelled to do so after seeing the severe lack of unity among believers.
“When I look at Scripture, I see how much God wants unity. This is why Christ died on the cross; to make the two one. And I see how Ephesians four says that we actually grieve the Spirit of God by our disunity. I really believe this is God's desire. And I just saw the Church getting worse and worse, and I would see the way people would bash each other. We're getting further and further away from what God wants.”
The Crazy Love author emphasized the power of silence, citing Exodus 14:14, which reads “14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still,” and Proverbs 10:19: “When words are many, transgression is not lacking.”
“With all the fighting, we talk so much, we have pressure to talk so much — we don’t know how to quietly be in awe of Almighty God together. If we did, we’d find ourselves on our knees, in tears,” he said.
Unity, Chan stressed, “has to start with Christ; it has to start with, ‘Wow, I was created in the image of the triune God.”
“But how many people wake up in the morning and have this reverent awe?" he lamented. "And because we don't have that, and we're not spending time marveling in silence at God and our oneness with Him, we try to jump to, ‘OK, let's all get along.’ And I'm going, 'No, we cannot all get along if we're not in shock that we are one with Him and He's given us His glory so that we can become perfect.'”
“The reason why we fight and the reason why we're so sure of our opinions ... is we don't get into the presence of God,” he said. “All of this horizontal stuff is because we really aren't truly, with all of our hearts, soul and mind loving Him, and entering into His presence.”
Chan, who has in the past taken heat for speaking at stadium events with pastors described as prosperity gospel preachers and “false teachers,” admitted he “used to be one of those guys” who would bash people of different denominations and theological beliefs “who I now realize did have the Holy Spirit.”
“I think I genuinely believed that was doing in the name of Jesus,” he said.
The author said he fears that many Christians are becoming the “Second Timothy 3 group that are always learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.”
“I don't want to be one of those that are constantly acquiring information but not knowing it,” he said. “I worry about my friends, everyone else that grew up in the same type of evangelical faith that I did that it's busy, and we don't take time to meditate and know these truths. If we did, we wouldn't be so quick to speak.”
“Get alone with the Lord,” he advised. “Let Him open you up. You may find issues and He may find issues in you that you need to know are wrong. You may have thought you're just going in for a checkup, and He cuts you open. We've got to get back to getting people into the presence of God.”