by Dan Boal
Throughout Scripture we are informed that God was active in establishing three core institutions in society: marriage as the bedrock of family structure (Matthew 19:4, Genesis 1:27), government (Romans 13:1), and the Church (Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28). These institutions have often been called the pillars of society. However, we live in a society with fracturing—if not crumbling—pillars. Marriage is no longer sacred; therefore, the home is in disarray; government continues to accommodate power-inclined persons and self-serving agendas; and the Church is quickly dividing on theological issues that impact both aforementioned institutions.
As a result, we are faced with political, ideological, racial, religious, and socioeconomic divide and disillusionment. We have become a nation of extremes, led by our media to believe our people embrace either the alt-right or hyper left. We now see violent rhetoric, deplorable behavior, and fear mongering contributing to our nation’s inability to express and process its pain. And the Church is left feeling confused, divided, and misunderstood. We were unsure about how to vote and are even more unsure about how to behave following the election.
Our nation’s citizens have been plagued with disruptive and destructive family situations; they’ve been wounded by government representatives and policies; and they have been hurt and dismayed by the Church and its response to this election. And because hurt people hurt people, there should be little wonder why riots, protests, hate memes, disparaging rhetoric, racial injustice, prejudices, and sardonic attitudes on social media are so prevalent. The noise generated by all this pain is drowning out the already weakened voice of the Church.
So we now find ourselves in a desperate nation crippled by fractured institutions. Yet there is reason to be hopeful, because the Church was built on one prevailing, pervading, blessed hope (Titus 2:13). For anywhere strife, injustice, and grief invade and overwhelm, a nearby church can answer Christ’s call—in word and deed—as His agent of reconciliation, restoration, and hope.
Here are three perspectives on unity the Church can embrace to move forward.
- Remember that Jesus is our first love, and He alone is the hope of the world. The Church is the only institution that offers lasting hope and healing to a hurting world. When people hear our words and see our deeds, do they hear and see a unified Jesus or a broken and divided Jesus? Are we like the Church of Ephesus (Revelation 2)? Have we forgotten our first love?
- Teach the next generation about the theology of unity and model it for them. Our children are constantly watching and learning. My five children hear my speech, observe my relationships, and will one day read my social media. They will not create a more unified Body if I’m not showing them how. Biblical unity is hard won by loving God and loving others as yourself. When I was growing up, my dad used to say, “When you choose yourself, you are choosing wrong.” Where have we been wrong, and what can we do to make it right?
- Intentionally seek the the unity of the Spirit. Unity is not a general spirit of friendliness or camaraderie. Nor is unity some common aim or series of objectives. True unity is Spirit-born and Spirit-sustained (Ephesians 4:1–4). What fractures exist in your church, community, relationships, and in your political, racial, and religious mindsets that can be mended only through the Spirit’s bond of peace?
Jesus laid down His life for the Church—not for the family, the government, or our preferred way of living but for His Bride, the Church. She is too precious to be lorded over by divided leaders.
Dan Boal is the Alliance Youth Ministries Consultant.