Disunity in Christ

Do you have a category of Christians you think are wrong? 

Maybe Wrong Christian belongs to the opposite political party. Maybe Wrong Christian won’t attend a church where there is female leadership. Maybe Wrong Christian dresses in revealing clothing. Maybe Wrong Christian cares about the environment. Maybe Wrong Christian doesn’t care about the environment. Maybe Wrong Christian doesn’t care about social justice. Maybe Wrong Christian cares about social justice.

Christena Clevland in her book, Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart, writes “There I was, convinced that I was defending Jesus by condemning Wrong Christian, when I saw that Jesus was beckoning both Right Christian and Wrong Christian and inviting all of us to know more of his heart. As I read through the Gospels, I noticed that he had a habit of connecting with everybody: conservative theologians,  liberal theologians, prostitutes, divorcees, children, politicians, people who party hard, military servicemen, women, lepers, ethnic minorities, celebrities, you name it. He was pretty serious about connecting, in spite of natural and ideological differences.”

Do you know what?

Jesus doesn’t care about the distinctions I’ve made between Right Christian and Wrong Christian. Jesus doesn’t care about my theology, my doctrine, and my dogma.

Christians can be deeply divided and hostile to one another. Entire churches split over things like what kind of coffee to buy for fellowship and what music to play before, during and after worship.

And while we as people of the church bicker about these things, people outside of the church wonder, “What in the world is wrong with those Christians?”

Scripture gives us many examples for church and community life.

(Read: Acts 4:32-35)

There are over 41,000* Christian organizations and denominations (this number is exaggerated as it includes nondenominational congregations, but still!). We’ve done a good job making sure the people we surround ourselves with are the same as us. Sameness we understand, but unity is still escaping us.

I read this week that over 160,000 Christians are martyred EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Right now, Christians are being tortured and killed in Iraq. And here we are, with 41,000 different denominations to to choose from.

What are we accomplishing for God in this world by creating these divisions and disunity?

When you argue and fight and divide over doctrine and dogma, what have you fulfilled for the kingdom of God?

How might the world be changed if Christians quit spending so much energy on these outlier issues and centered ourselves on the central mission of Jesus?

This book was fantastic, and I highly recommend it. (Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart)

*41,000 is bit exaggerated. There are 217 actual denominations, and the rest of the 41,000 are non-denominational congregations, which each count as a denomination.