I played club basketball growing up, and I loved it. I had the privilege of being under the same coach for the majority of the years I played, and the core of our team stayed pretty consistent as well. The multiple games and countless practices I had with that group of boys created a bond that I’ll never forget. We started having fun instead of just playing to win. We learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses on the court. We were a team. We were united.
The concept of unity is appearing less and less in mainstream culture, while the power of the individual is at an all-time high. Politically, there are still signs of loose unity, such as the UN, EU, and primary parties in various countries. However, break-off parties from the primary parties sprout up frequently, and resolutions passed by multi-national bodies don’t seem to invoke much stability in comparison to the uproar of opposition.
Social unity is even less frequent…does Europe even have any? I can certainly say that in our country, the closest thing we have to social unity is the resounding cry of post-modern thought: “Everyone has the right to choose for themselves.” Basically, keep your opinion to yourself, because common society statutes/scientific laws are the only things that people should recognize as having authority or truth. Interpret and discover life for yourself.
Perhaps that explanation is a bit dry, but you get my point. So, now that we’re on the same page philosophically, I feel like I can point out the elephant in the room.
What about spiritual unity?
“Spiritual unity, you say? That’s for ignorant, religious people who want to disregard my freedom to choose…I just need Jesus. C’mon Jeff, get with the program.” While I feel like this may be a general response from our culture, I think society’s solution of “individualism conquers all” doesn’t add up from God’s perspective.
Remember my basketball team? Just because we were younger, arguably more impressionable kids didn’t mean our team came together overnight. There were arguments, harsh words, and tough losses over a few kids trying to be superstars. The process took a while, and sacrifices were made to advance the team aspect instead of our winning percentage.
During the ministry of Jesus and early writings of the church, the idea of exalting/loving others and uniting in the Spirit came up constantly. In fact, books like 1 John spout those messages almost ad nauseam. So why is the current Church composed of so many people who argue that interpreting God individually is the best way?
I want you to go back and read that question one more time, so you don’t misunderstand what I’m asking. Am I saying that everyone should agree on all theological, social, and moral issues before Jesus comes back? Certainly not. I asked the question because I feel that recent articles, blogs, and online battles of Christians vs. other Christians (along with a more militant wave of Atheism) have everyone choosing the “individual” route as a default…because unity is basically impossible, right? I dare you to think twice.
Okay, so our culture will never be unanimous about everything…but I think the unity that Christ and Scripture speak of is attainable. If you call yourself a follower of Christ, you must realize that it’s not about you. Unity calls us to set aside “our superior and obviously superior logic,” and come together for the sake of the gospel (I’m definitely speaking to myself as well). I’ve seen countless people in-person and online get burned, slandered, trashed, and disregarded because of their so-called “ignorant/right-wing/left-wing/bigoted/unorthodox/ill-informed…(etc.) faith,” and it needs to stop. How easy it is for us to forget that Christ called us to suffer as much as He called us to rejoice. Satan doesn’t need to use violent war or physical afflictions to shatter our corporate confidence and image as the redeemed children of God. Our massive egos are way to good for him to pass up.
I’m stepping down from my soapbox, and continuing to pray that we step away from the need to be right…and recognize the need to unite for the only reason worth it.
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.”
Philippians 1:27-29 ESV