Unity – yoo͞′nĭ-tē
1. The state or quality of being one or united into a whole.
2. The state or quality of being in accord; harmony.
I am concerned with a semantic tactic being used in the church today. Specifically the word unity.
Many are espousing unity among churches (see John 17) as the end all be all of ushering in revival. It goes something like this, “Let’s get all the churches together and our unity will usher the Spirit of God into our city!” [Spoiler alert: the Spirit goes where he pleases when he pleases] Please hear me, my concern is not with the concept of unity itself. I love unity in God. The unity of the Godhead. The unity of believers saved by grace through faith in Christ. That unity is lovely. The issue that I’m having are pastors who proclaim a need for “unity” when they mean conformity. And often it’s a conformity to goofy religious doctrines without raising questions.
Be like us… or else…
Believe like us… or else…
Behave like us… or else…
Try going to a unity gathering and saying something controversial or calling something wrong. I have been silenced with haste regarding doctrinal issues.
I witnessed a pastor talking to Satan for an entire prayer. Following the, “amen,” I pointed out the oddity of a pastor speaking to Satan from start to finish. What does unity look like in this instance? I don’t pray to Satan.
I have spoken with a pastor who claims to no longer sin with regularity. I smugly asked, “Do you lust? Exaggerate? Worry? Covet? Harbor unforgiveness? Have anger toward a brother? Yell words at your windshield in traffic?” With confidence they replied, “no.” I asked when the last time they recalled sinning, and according to them it had been months and was unintentional. At least now I know they are liars and delusional. What does unity look like in this instance? I recognize that I am a weary sinner saved by grace. I sin daily in pride, self focus, self self self. I don’t give as I probably should. Love I know I ought. The list is quite extensive.
I have watched pastors publicly proclaim God as having no gender while onlookers began referring to their heavenly mother. (Might just be me, but shouldn’t we honor God’s preferred pronouns? He/Him Lord/God). What does unity look like in this instance? I despise the contemporary culture creep into the church.
If we bring in other contentious doctrine… Watch out! The roles of men and women? Prosperity Gospel hogwash? Fortune cookie prophecies? End times? Tongues? Sexual chastity? Sexual identity? It becomes a party real quick.
So then, what is church unity if such a thing can be achieved?
I suppose, for an old gospel codger like myself, unity in Christ is simple and central.
God is good and created a good world.
Sin entered the world through spiritual and human rebellion against this good God.
All people are sinful and prone to wander because of the rebellion. This separates us from God.
God came in the flesh, we call him Jesus, to be a sinless sacrifice on our behalf. He paid the debt we owed. He gives us the spiritual inheritance that he earned. This salvation is given to us by his free favor through faith in him. This reconciles us with God.
Now we are free. Free to admit how rotten we are. Free to highlight how saved we are. Free to forgive. Free to fail. Free to succeed. We are free in Christ despite being stuck in this sin-sack we call flesh.
You want to have unity, let’s start with gospel and end with the gospel while resisting the urge to add goofy religious tint.