This post is part of a scynchro-blogimagacallit Rally to Restore Unity, hosted by Rachel Held Evans.
Words are so much fun. Every generation or so, we get some catch phrases that seem to ignite the public and create entire sub-cultures of groups, language, and bumper-stickers.
Unity is one of those words. It is a value, a dream, a hope, and a desire for a great many people, and I dare say it is a value, a dream, a hope, and a desire for the Maker of the Universe as well.
But we must be careful. While unity is an attribute that is of great value, what I think drives a degree of disunity within (at least especially) the Christian faith, is to what degree we can be unified in all things.
Lets be clear, we, as humans, and jesus-followers, are not united with all people … and it is even safer to say that we are not unified in our tolerance of all actions.
This is where the church gets hung up, and argues about the songs that are sung, the colors of the carpet, whether there is predestination or free-will (heaven forbid – pun intended – that it might actually be … both), pre- or post- trib (or if there is even a trib at all), and most recently opinions and speculations (and yes, they are opinions and speculations) about heaven, hell, and the fate of every person on the planet. We disagree on things, that at times, are terribly small when looked at through a larger lens.
But we do have to draw a line somewhere, don’t we? I mean to say, I am not unified with the act of murder, or rape, or theft, or dishonesty, degredation of women, genocide, or adultery. I would guess many people that are participating in this blogfest would feel the same. Do we cheer on murder, death, and destruction? Surely not. Does that mean that we are in favor of “dis-unity”?
No, of course not. And many reading may think that I am speaking crazy, trying to say that this unity talk is about siding with the act of murder and such. But what you then have to admit is that unity as a concept has lines and boundaries.
Unity is, then, not universal. It is contingent. It is contingent on who or what the unity is under. Who are you united with? Who are you unified under? Is God united with baby-killing? Surely not.
So, in my participation in this rally to restore unity, I say that I am united and seek unity with those that aknolwedge the atonement achievied through the person and deity of Jesus Christ, and those that work to spread that hopeful message to the ends of the earth, both with their words, and with their hands and feet.
But then that is where it gets messy. That is when churches argue and break and split. You see, even Ms. Evans, on her site, indicated that the purpose of this event was to:
“…lightheartedly combat some of the vitriol coming out of the online Christian community by celebrating what we have in common and demonstrating that we can have a sense of humor when it comes to non-essential theological disagreements.”
But …. what is a “non-essential theological disagreement”? Some might say (and to the point of this rally) that the statements by a certain pastor in a certain book about heaven and hell are in fact, very essenital theological issues to disagree upon. Some would say it doesn’t matter. Some say immersion, some say sprinkling. Is God righteous, holy, and wrathful, or does his love and mercy endure forever …. or why is there an “or” in that sentence at all? While I care not to mention my personal position(s) (which is not the point of this whole thing) …. here is the point:
What we have is a discussion. (Which, by the way … is how Jesus did most of his teaching) A vital, personal, weighted discussion. A discussion that must occur. Heated at times, sure, but this talk is essential. Because what you find in all of this “vitriol” are people reading, talking, studying, blogging, sharing, praying, meditating, discussing, teaching, responding, correcting, guiding, discipling, quoting, and expressing one thing:
…. the search for Jesus, what He looks like, and how we can love Him and through Him, love others more.
Now that …. that is something I can stand united with.