One of the arguments against Christians is the mindnumbing number of denominations and divisions we have within the faith. And we give them plenty of ammunition when conservative evangelicals hurl stones at liberals or vice versa, even to the point where we declare one another lacking the essentials of the faith at all. Of course, in the eyes of the non-Christian, it makes us all look really silly, especially when the truth we claim doesn’t bring about unity, but disunity.
Of course, it doesn’t help when the possibility for this disunity is written in our scriptures. The apostle Paul talks about the church as being parts of the body of Christ…one might be a foot, another might be an eye. Paul actually makes a strong case for appreciating differences and yet, we rarely appreciate the differences or trust the work of God that is being done in another community of faith. What do you do with that?
We’ve got emergents, missionals, mosaics, monastics, hyper-Calvinists (and these are just the new kids on the block), and tens of thousands of others and we have trouble liking one another. Throw in matters of race, economics, gender, and politics, and boy, those divisions increase exponentially. And our ability to speak through, past, from, into those divisions? please…part of the whole postmodern critique is coming out of inabilities to address these huge factions within our society.
Ironically, the apostle Paul writes that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. So in a sense, we have inherited the problem and the solution. Yet I see very few of us actually learning to appreciate one another and even in disagreement, can we keep peace?
Are Christians known as peacemakers? Or are we the ones who set the poles in any setting? Do people assume that we’re the most judgmental people in the room or is it really the case that we are?
I applaud people who break down divisions, for instance, multi-ethnic churches, but I also know that shouldn’t be the primary goal. There should be a deeper understanding and community built around a hopeful vision of the kingdom of God, but many Christians don’t even share that vision. But it seems even those, or perhaps, especially those who have their theology nice and solid, don’t know how to make themselves likable or relate to others well?
So how do relate to one another? Isn’t our witness somewhat damaged by our disunity? and yet unity isn’t the goal…but it is, kind of.