It almost goes without saying, the United States has been challenged in the past year by tension, divisiveness and outright conflict like never before in any of our lifetimes. We in the Church, the Body of Christ, have not been spared that tension. We’re vulnerable to broken relationships because, like everyone else, we are flawed humans with plenty of shortcomings. But…
But, we Christ-followers can rise above the world’s divisiveness because, unlike others, we have a higher banner that unites us— the Kingdom of Heaven— than any nationality, ethnicity or political party that may divide us. We lose track sometimes of this critical truth about us. We are called to a much higher purpose than simple partisanship to anything that is simply earthly.
Because of that, a core verse for us to keep before us is Eph. 4:3: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit…”Look at each powerful component of the context of that verse; verses 1-6. Paul writes:
“As a prisoner for the Lord…” Like Paul, we are not our own. We are captured and captivated by our relationship with God. It should be our highest allegiance.
“Live a life worthy of the calling you have received…” We have been given an everlasting gift. Paul urges us to allow our lives to reflect the enormous value of our calling. Don’t squander it, reveal it.
“Be completely humble and gentle…” Consider others before ourselves. Entirely. Completely. Always.
“Be patient, bearing with one another in love…” Our relationships ought to be defined by respect and love toward others. We should withhold anger and selfishness. Be patient and take time to be kind.
Paul now builds to a crescendo.
“There is one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
I imagine that if Paul were speaking these words to us today, he might pause, then ask, “Just exactly what part of ‘Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit’ are you not understanding?! This is crucial for us who are in the Kingdom. Any questions?” And then drop the mike and walk off stage.
This is not a call for uniformity, otherwise God wouldn’t have given us intellect, the capacity to think on our own, as well as free will, the capability to decide on our own. But history confirms that differences between us often create divisiveness; that’s why Paul is speaking about it.
Arthur Brooks, a Harvard professor and fellow Believer, writes, “What we need is not to disagree less, but to disagree better.” This statement is only necessary if we have disagreements. And of course, we do.Paul understood this, and then made it abundantly clear that our different opinions are no justification for disunity.
C.S. Lewis wrote: “Let’s go on disagreeing but don’t let us judge. My model here is the behavior…at a Russian Orthodox service, where some sit, some lie on their faces, some stand, some kneel, some walk about, and no one takes the slightest notice of what anyone else is doing. That is good sense, good manners and good Christianity… ‘Mind one’s own business is a good rule in religion as in other things.”
Those who may read this post come from a broad spectrum of churches
- Some meet on Sunday morning; some on Saturday evening; some meet only online
- Some are predominantly one ethnicity; others are led by pastoral staff of several ethnicities.
- Some are urban, some rural, some suburban
- Some pastors wear robes and tunics; others wear shorts and sandals
- Some would describe themselves as conservative; others as progressive
- Some were baptized on a stage by sprinkling; for others, it was “full-immersion, ocean-water, baptism by the sea.” (Thank you, Chuck Girard).
We in the Kingdom of Heaven don’t need to agree on everything. Because we already agree on what actually matters the most: Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by him. (John 14:6) Having that core conviction in common, we can joyfully celebrate our diversity.
Paul, reminds us: “There is one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
Because of that, we make every effort to keep unity in the Church, which is the Kingdom of Heaven.
My greatest joy in life is my family. I know, that sounds like the comment you’re supposed to make as a man and father. All I can say is I literally shake my head in wonder at the family I have: my wife Beryl; my daughter Barclay and son-in-law Vince, their four daughters, Bella, Brynn, Brooke and Blake; my son Alec, my son Conor and daughter-in-law Bonnie, their daughter Gemma and son Calvin. Every one of them is a genuine gift. Beyond that, I have a calling that I live out through Peregrine Ministries. It is to help men: Understand their identity in Christ, Embrace their role as men, and Live out their God-given calling in life. Bottom line is I’m convinced men matter and I want to help them live life on purpose.