I don’t like conflict. Few of us do. This is a significant part of why the Church in America has become so tribal and segregated. Not just racially, though that remains largely true. But we’re becoming increasingly segregated among churches by our politics, social beliefs and approach to life.
We hang with a “tribe” of Christians that feels like it mostly agrees with us because that helps us avoid conflict, and we don’t want conflict. And when conflict does arrive, rather than working through it we very often just change churches. Sometimes there’s doctrinal differences. But the majority of the stories I hear about people leaving churches have to do with personalities, politics and practices. This breaks my heart.
So what can we do? How can we, today, seek the unity which Jesus prayed for us?
Let me suggest that before we tackle the biggest challenges (though some of us should) we must re-ground in a daily practice of unity one-on-one. Who, in the church community or small group you’re a part of, do you have some differences with? Pray for them today. Send them a note of encouragement. Find time to do something together. Don’t lead with the differences. Lead with love.
It may feel overwhelming or downright unrealistic for many of us to “seek the unity of the Church” at any kind of scale. But we can all love one person. Thank God Jesus did that for me.
Grace and Peace,