"If only we could get it together!”
I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that phrase. I hear it at church meetings all the time whether I am serving at the top of the United Methodist Church in Nashville or listening to others plead for unity in our church. The pressure to produce a vision that everyone wants to get on board with and follow is a daunting task. But, I wonder sometimes if we have uniformity in mind when we cry out for unity. Uniformity can be good if we want to create consistency in a department like administration or communication. But, to impose our ideas onto others as if they were the way to go is arrogant and often leads us in a direction we don’t want to go.
I also hear this same phrase when I listen to a husband and wife talk about navigating a rough patch in their marriage. It can be scary when we experience something for the first time or we wrestle with a major issue for hundredth time with no resolution. Serious challenges happen to marriage all the time. I believe most couples have a vision of what they believed marriage was going to be like and the reality of marriage is completely different from their vision. Dangerous territory to explore for sure! But, these challenges are not without promise and hope when both husbands and wives are first committed to Jesus Christ as their Lord.
My personal Facebook community includes a lot of people who feel strongly about the current culture of our country. Friends opinion about the president or the ‘situation of the day.’ I see many posts about “If only…” I respect everyone’s opinions and views. I love hearing about what people are passionate about and why. Even if I don’t ‘like’ it all the time. I also hear vitriolic anger and toxic disgust directed at situations that are complex and require our respect before we tackle solutions. I believe our souls cry out with a deep longing for unity hidden within the pleas for solutions. Why can’t we get it together?
What if the deep longing for unity was actually placed within our human soul by our God who longs for his people to return to him?
I don’t believe we can ever achieve unity outside the local church. Secular culture values individuals and individual rights over the consensus of the group. Individual opinions matter more than truth. Secular society says truth is relative. So, if there is no Truth and we are to believe everyone’s opinion must be heard and examined, there is no way forward. It’s a great way to get stuck or isolated. Listen to how many people use this ‘stuckness’ as an excuse to not grow, challenge or mature in their faith.
For Christ followers, unity isn’t a what, it’s a Who.
God presented a formula long ago that would unite his people. God’s ways do not require fairness, political correctness or a false sense of tolerance. Tolerance can segregate us further because we put up with someone or their view but never truly engage with them, see them as a beloved child of God or truly learn from a divergent point of view. I don’t believe Jesus entered into humanity with tolerance as a heavenly value. His ways are pure. They always have been and always will be. Jesus is about what the Father intended for all of us from the beginning.
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their nation. 2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV