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Misguided unity

Is Your Church Divided By Disunity?

We are hearing many calls from both sides of the political spectrum to unify, to be united. Many are correctly understanding these calls to be little more than a call to abandon your ‘wrong-headed thinking’ and join me in my ‘right-minded thinking.’ There is little in these calls that shows any desire to move away from the divisive patterns of judgment and condemnation of others who see things differently than we do. The truth is the political arena simply does not offer a hope for any kind of true unity and it is high time that Christians forsake looking for salvation in the political arena.

Now, I am not naïve. I know and understand that our values and beliefs are under great attack here in America, maybe more than they ever have been in the history of this country. Yet, I fear we are losing sight of the apostle Paul’s words to us that our enemy is not flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). Our weapons are not fleshly weapons or political gains. I fear that when we engage at this level we are conforming to the patterns of this world (Rom. 12:2). We desperately need to engage the battle where it truly exists, in the spiritual realm and in our own hearts. I am certainly praying for our country and its leadership and it is needed now more than ever.

In a recent sermon, our pastor challenged us to pray that God would “break our hearts for what breaks His.” I have been spending more time in prayer on this topic of unity, especially within the family of Christian believers.  A recent review of articles in various Christian media revealed calls to excommunicate some, condemn others, focus on political action, and many other divisive approaches to disagreement. I am reminded of Jesus’ prayer when He was preparing for the cross. He prayed that they (we) may be one as He is one with the Father (John 17:21). That is the true call to unity; the source is in the Father and in our restored relationship with Him that was bought for us on the cross. My heart breaks when I see the disunity in the Body of Christ that is so prevalent today and I believe my heart is breaking because it also is breaking God’s heart.

Jesus told His followers that the world (not other believers) would know they were His followers by their love for one another (John 13:35). It is interesting to note that He never identified any other feature that we would be recognized by.  I cannot help but see the level of disunity and division within the Body of Christ and wonder how we can expect the world to think we have anything to offer that is better than the way they are living. Does the image of God that is portrayed in our lives and in our churches seem attractive to the world? If not, why not? Does your heart break when you see how we are failing in this critical aspect of Christian life?

Certainly, Jesus understood that division and discord was going to be a part of our lives in this world. He even said that He came to divide (Luke 12:49-53). However, our response to the inevitable division needs to be one of heartbreak and open-handedness, not one of judgment and condemnation. The apostle Paul told us to live in peace insofar as it was up to us (Rom. 12:18).

In our recent book, Leading Beyond Your Limits, published by Vide Press, my wife and I invite leaders of all kinds to explore and evaluate their own spiritual journey. We suggest a model for leadership within the Body of Christ that embodies the principle of unity. It is our prayer that the Body of Christ can be a bastion of love in the midst of a world of anger and hate.

Romans 12:2 (ESV)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Michael Murphy is co-author of Leading Beyond Your Limits.  He has served in a variety of leadership roles in ministry settings in both church and mission fields since 1993.

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