Saturday, February 25, 2017

A thought on the (dis)unity of the church.

What is unity? For the Christian, the example Paul gives us is probably one of the best; a body. However, what we see too often it dis-unity. I want to suggest, maybe we are not a disunited as we think.

1 Corinthians 12:12-30 is the Scripture pastors have used for years to describe how the body works together. We understand but I do not think we miss two other parts. First, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 where it reminds us that there are different gifts, service, and workings. The other is 1 Corinthians 13 which speaks of love. Without a deep understanding these two pieces we want to make the body more like an ameba or we want to tear pieces out.

What does love have to do with unity? It seems obvious if we are united then we will all love each other. The problem is that God isn’t saying we should love if we are in unity, but we should love if we don’t appear like we are. This means loving even those we strongly disagree with: our enemies. I assume I don’t have to quote the Sermon on the Mount here. The problem isn’t many times the enemies out there (outside the church) but the enemies who seem to be inside.

The issue I want to really look at is the different gifts, service, and works. I told someone not long ago that we judge the passion for evangelism by the model of the extrovert and the discipleship by the model of the introvert. I want to make it clear, I think these models are wrong. An extreme extrovert will not be able to sit for hours studying the Bible and meditating in private. One the other hand, an extreme introvert will shut down if put in front of a bunch of people. Are either bad people? No. they are different. They have different gifts, services, and works. Now different churches, organizations, and groups also have different, gifts, services, and works. 

Let’s look at a different way.

Do you think to save space in a school the library ought to be in the football stadium? Or the shop class meet in the swimming pool (yes! electricity and water sounds smart to me, NOT), Or the mix drama class and math (though I am sure some math teacher have seen a lot of drama, “But I can’t (sob) get it”). We know they can’t they are in different parts of the school and honestly have little to do with one another. 
By the way, you think church politics is bad consider college/educational politics. However, we, on the outside, understand each of these loosely connected parts is important for a school, though they don’t seem to connect. On the inside, the librarian cries over funding going to stupid jocks, the math teacher decries the waste of intellect on the high budget, low talent drama, the shop teacher whines over the lack of upkeep on his equipment when the pool maintenance never seems to lack its funding (though to be honest a green pool stands out more than a little rust on a tool). I have known some school administrators it is many times a thankless job with everyone wanting to give advice and criticism. A lot more criticism than good advice is what most administrators get.

If you are in this school what do you think you can do to help begin unity? Smack some sense into the shop teacher(tempting but no)? Or force all the jocks to spend as much time in the library eating, I mean, reading the books as they do in practice? Hand out pamphlets to try and explain how we should all get along (now you have upset the janitor who says they will add to the trash problem). Can I suggest something else? Don’t add to the problem. Don’t yell at the other teachers for not getting along. Don’t offer advice to the administration. Do your job to the best of your ability do not try to be God, I mean, the administrator. Do the hardest thing there is to do: work on yourself and do the work you have been hired to do.

Do I need to now explain how this works in the church? Jesus is our administrator (and a whole lot more). He is what joins us together though, to be honest sometimes I have a hard time seeing how. There are many great schools which from the outside look good but they aren’t there is in-fighting, backstabbing, and what looks like complete disunity yet somehow, they get their job done. Could they do it better if they quit what we would call being petty, sure, but they are human. So are the people in the church, the church has the best and the worst of humanity it’s going to have issues, but that doesn’t mean it can and won’t get anything done it will. We have the best administrator.

Finally, to understand everyone is the school of God. All of Creation the scripture says is trying to teach man about God. Just as the teachers and sometimes the students see dis-unity while they are in the walls, once outside perhaps we will see it differently. Outside the school, we will be amazed how our administrator worked to keep this school doing its job.

I want to note one thing here. If you have been recently hurt by the bad actions of a fellow teacher/student, this illustration will not remove the pain. You don’t need answers now, you need healing and thankfully the great administrator, Jesus is also the great physician. Call out to him not for answers but for healing. If you have a bullet inside you, you don’t need a lecture on how bullets can hurt people, you need a doctor to remove it.



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