Unity Flipped

Posted: November 13, 2008 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

There’s been a lot of talk about unity lately. It’s pretty much coming from everyone. Unity in the political parties; unity among church and ministries; unity of the world’s countries; unity of races; unity between religions; unity between members on a team. Heck people even cry for unity between the Pro-lifers and the Pro-choicers.

If I am understanding unity correctly what those calling for unity are advocating is a world where everyone is on the same page, we work together, put aside our differences and come together and believe in the same things. This would be a great thing, but what I see in the stances of those around me and looking at politics, races, countries and all the area I just listed and many more, is what people really mean when they call out for unity is this, “You and I we need to be unified, put aside your differences and come to my side and we will be unified.” Yes there will be unity, but only because one party has had to completely change his views and this isn’t necessarily healthy, in fact could be called communism or be a cult.

People get frustrated because others aren’t unified with them but they themselves aren’t willing to relinquish anything. Basically unity calls for both sides to not hold to some beliefs or ideals as tightly as they would want if everyone agreed with them. True unity comes only if everyone believes and holds to the same philosophy, theology, and any other ology you can think of.

What often happens is when someone calls for unity, they are not willing to back down on a certain premise, calling the other side to change to become unified, hence creating division faster than unity. Often when unity is sought after disunity becomes the result.

So how do we get unity? We agree that we can disagree. In the church there are some truths that are essentials to the Faith and do not allow disunity, whereas other nonessentials that if disagreed upon do not have to create disunity.

But let’s be honest Unity in itself is extremely hard to ever achieve. Maybe a better thought is, “Let’s just work together on what we agree on and not take the other so seriously.” Don’t expect everyone to change to be like you. To achieve unity you may have to give up a few “rights” of your own. And let’s face it true unity even between those who agree on things is pretty much impossible to establish.

Unity requires Grace.

(Please continue to read the comments that discuss this further, thanks)

  1. Caitlin says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever thought about or heard someone speak of Unity in a way like that. It makes sense but is completely opposite of anything I have ever been taught about the word/idea. Thinking about Unity like that makes me feel like Unity in Christ is the only real Unity we should be fighting or striving for, anything else is going to be in vain, not possible or just flat out a waste of time. Definitely requires some further thought about what my goals in life should be as far as involvement in certian bodies, groups, and organizations…

  2. keithcarpenter says:

    If anyone continues and reads this, I did not post this note to discourage attempting unity, but instead to put a caution on the seeking of unity in all situations. Some situations call for absolute unity, others call for partial unity, there are places where unity whould not be a goal between the parties represented.
    As my friend Averi pointed out unity under Christ can be a beautiful thing and can and should be sought after, although still with grace attached.
    Margaret Thatcher once said, “Consensus is the negation of leadership.” ie sometimes a leader needs to just stand up and say, “This is where I believe we need to go,” and then do it. Sometimes the consensus of the “group” is important and right, sometimes the “group” is wrong and the “group” needs a good leader.
    So, Unity under Christ is a great thing, seperated from selfish ambition and vain conceipt and seasoned with Grace.

  3. Sue J says:

    Wanna join my short term mission- we’re working on flexibility, unity and forgetting your own agenda to follow God’s purpose. It is very hard for people to not want to save the community, have them prosper and build a school in the week you’ll be there. Sue J

  4. Ryan V says:

    I agree with you Keith. Those calling for unity are usually those not wanting to compromise their own beliefs or ideas, but want others to conform. I’m just curious though, how do you respond to Paul’s appeal regarding divisions in the church in 1 Corinthians 1:10?

  5. keithcarpenter says:

    Great question Ryan, as in 1 Corinthians Paul speaks about unity in Philippians 2:1-5 as well and calls us to be like minded and without selfish ambition and vain conceit, and be perfectly united in word and thought.
    And we should strive for this unity. The problem Paul didn’t quite face yet was a multiple of different Christian denominations, I am sure the disunity he was speaking about was the beginning of denominational wars, and if they would have remained unified this possibly wouldn’t have happened. But it did.
    I totally agree with Paul, we need to be unified so that we can minister at a greater scale. But unity has to come with the price of putting aside our own selfish battling and pride. Without the elimination of self and total focus on the Spirit unity is impossible.
    Saying this we still have to contend with the disunity that denominations and doctrinal stances bring about. For instance, I can not be unified with the teaching that Homosexuality is not a sin, to name just one. But I can be unified with someone who desires to tell others about the love and forgiveness Christ offers. Then I have to be unified in the areas I feel are true reflections of Biblical teaching and the rest, we must agree to disagree.
    I suppose Unity is only achievable when selfishness is not present and one truly seeks Biblical answers of truth.
    I must also say that unity does not mean we do all things the same, as with some college campus ministries who want all the campus ministries to come together and be one big ministry. Meeting together for a monthly worship celebration is one thing but joining forces and becoming one ministry instead of many smaller ones only lessens the affect on the campus for Christ. I believe that many is actually better for the whole, less of a bottle neck in leadership and discipleship and ministry, but of course maybe this is all a kind of unity in the long run.

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