Unity Has Not Become a Revelation Yet!
Matt. 16 reveals the need for revelation. That’s when the ‘light switches on’ to unity. Unity has to become an “Ah-ha . . . I get it” for a shift in attitude and behavior to occur. When Peter declared “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matt. 16:16), Jesus says in effect . . . ‘You are blessed because flesh and blood didn’t reveal this to you, but My Father did’ (Matt. 16:17). It would behoove all of us to read Jn. 17 and let the Holy Spirit speak to us. Ask for a revelation on the power of unity.
Unity For The Sake of Unity.
Some have tried to gather churches around the vision of unity rather than uniting around a common purpose. The result has been a year or two of meetings that fall as quickly as they rise. Remember, unity is the starting point, but not the finishing point. Unity is purpose driven! Unity is not the end in itself, but the means to an end. Unity is the servant, not the master. Jesus prayed in Jn. 17:21 . . . “they may all be one . . . that the world may believe . . .” Unity is the means, or ‘government’ to the ‘end’ or ‘vision’ of community evangelization. Unity needs vision to operate effectively.
“Our Church Will Take The City!”
This attitude of spiritual smugness and independence is widespread among certain types of churches today. While I’m grateful that there is a vision to ‘take the city,’, the attitude of ‘We have it all . . . we don’t need anybody’ is problematic and undermines the very vision their churches seek to accomplish. In essence, they have declared, without knowing it, that it’s not God’s will for any other church to be in their community. ONE cannot multiply! Remember, the gospel is a declaration of interdependence, not a declaration of independence.
A History of Church Offense and Doctrinal Criticism.
Last year I personally conducted over 50 city reaching/community transformation events all over the world. Most every event starts at the place of . . . ‘We don’t trust one another,’ ‘you hurt me,’ or ‘you stole my sheep.’ The truth is, most pastors and churches are afraid to get into any real and tangible unity because of a bad history of church relationships. We simply have not learned to ‘honor the glory’ of each church and church leader. Unity is more than reconciliation . . . it’s learning how to trust all over again!
A Christian Fellowship, or a Community Church?
Many churches tend to center on themes such as doctrines, spiritual emphasis (faith, prophecy, prosperity, etc.), ethnic or national groups (Korean, college age, Greek Orthodox, Turkish Orthodox, etc.), or personalities. The end result is “Why do we need to relate to other churches – that’s not our emphasis.” As a result, they become “an inch wide and a mile deep”. Their logic seems to be “We like unity inside our church, but not outside our church. While they all have important contributions to make to church unity, their total focus on one area impedes real and tangible unity for the sake of the community.
“We Tried That Before, And It Didn’t Work!”
Many in the past have tried to get churches united and it ‘didn’t work’. Remember, it takes time to shift church culture. Twenty years ago the subject of church unity was ‘counter-cultural’. Today, there is increasing momentum toward unity for a purpose! If you tried it years ago, you were a pioneer, and pioneers get the most ‘arrows.’ Today, unity is almost becoming the church’s normal culture. Also, please remember, there will never be total church unity in most communities. God is looking for what I call ‘sufficient unity’ among enough churches to get His will done on earth as it is in heaven.
“I’m Too Busy . . . I Don’t Have Time!”
What is really being said here is probably true if unity is not a revelation and a priority to such a church or pastor. The truth is another meeting with pastors whom you may be uncomfortable with or where progress is sometimes slow is a stretch for most. However, ask yourself the question, could the results be worth it compared to the costs? Enough said!