“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lor, one faith…” Ephesians 4:3-5
I heard about an article today that caught my attention. The author’s premise was that America is quickly becoming a country of separate tribes rather than the unified nation it was designed to be. Whether the tribes are labeled according to race, gender or even region, all of them are motivated by frustrations and grievances.
It is as if people want to focus these days on differences and deficiencies rather than common threads we all share as U.S. citizens. The idea saddened and scared me, because it rang so true. With a quick look at the news I can see it playing out around me every day – you probably can too.
And what’s true of the world at large can unfortunately be said of the church. The Body of Christ has become divided. In fact, whole denominations have come about when agreement couldn’t be reached on certain issues. I can take this to an even more personal level. In my church of only about 150, we have opposing factions that have faced off about worship music styles, dress code and how to run the Sunday coffee hour.
These are all things worth talking about, but should they be the cause of strife? Is there a way to agree to disagree while nurturing connections between people? I believe there is – but we have to be willing to shift our focus.
The scripture from Ephesians 4 is all about rediscovering what we have in common. Paul uses the word ‘one’ several times to emphasize his point. And notice that it’s not an accidental thing – it’s a decision on our part. “Make every effort,” Paul writes, as if he knows we need reminders. Well, we do!
As humans, tribal thinking is a natural reaction to living in a challenging world. We can find a sense of comfort and security in the familiar. But taken to the extreme, we can become so enclosed in our own circle that we grow suspicious of those who don’t do things exactly the way we do.
There are certainly core issues that all believers must hold, and the Bible is the only Authority for them. But there are so many other, smaller issues that are not fully spelled out in Scripture. And paying too much attention to those distracts us from becoming the true family of God that we could be.
How do we foster Paul’s approach to each other? With an attitude of:
- Curiosity – we truly want to know about each other
- Humility – we realize that we don’t know everything
- Thankfulness – we feel grateful that God created all of us uniquely in His image
The Body of Christ united by the bond of faith, blessed with peace and power – how great does that sound? It’s possible, if we’re willing to work at it.