I love the Church. When and where she is healthy, I celebrate with joy. Where she remains broken and dysfunctional, I grieve with a pain that is emotional, spiritual, and deeply personal. She often hurts me, and I listen as many others express their own wounds. But the Church is my family; indeed, I am a member of her body. I simultaneously feel betrayed and culpable when I consider the present disunity. It is as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said:
“We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”
When things are not as they ought to be, we should be grieved. Lament is the biblical, holy, God-given language for expressing our grief. Lament is honestly acknowledging our pain before the only One who can bring true peace and justice, the One who achieves unity by His presence. In fact, by His design, shalom requires lament. If we take seriously the call for unity in Scripture, we should be troubled that we are not who we are meant to be. We may know the Truth, but we lament when we are unable to believe the Truth. Let us faithfully grieve that we have not been as beautiful and fruitful as we could have been and as we ought to be—if only we were united. Perhaps the tears of our lament will clear our eyes, that we might better see the hope and unity we have in Jesus.
Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. – 1 Corinthians 1:10
Beloved Community of God,
Can we please come together? How can we be content with remaining divided? Our disunity is a fruit of the flesh and an abomination to God. Is there no conviction? Can’t we see this is exactly where our Enemy wants us to be? Lord, break our hearts for what breaks Yours.
Angry. Sad. Exhausted. Tired of trying. Tired of caring. Tired of hurting. Tired of feeling so tired. Lord, help us. Give us strength. Remind us of what our perseverance produces—a hope that does not fail. May we throw off the sin and the things that divide us, fix our eyes on Jesus, and keep running.
Lord, we long for You to return and finally finish Your work of restoration. As we are tempted to grow numb in the waiting, put an angst in our souls to see the Bride of Christ in all her beauty. May it be that we are eager to see greater unity in the Church—with all its wonderful diversity. Help us to no longer underestimate the power of idolatry to divide. Let us not forget lies are convincing because we want to believe them. Make us aware of fools and scoffers within the Church—wayward sheep and vicious wolves. Keep us from bowing to the sacred cows they put before us. Fools who boldly and publicly pontificate from profound ignorance, as if their presumptions are the Truth, as if all doctrine is dogma. Scoffers who criticize and condemn any and every idea outside of their own perspective and control.
Fools and scoffers in the Church. Could they be us? Are our traditions really worth all of this? Are our preferences truly this valuable? I don’t even know if we can see the damage we’re doing. Power hungry. Fear mongering. Authoritarian. Pharisaical. Stiff-necked snakes. We’re tearing ourselves apart! Are we whitewashed tombs—looking pretty and put together on the surface, but nothing but death underneath? Is this who we’ve become? Have we considered that maybe we should stop leading people if we don’t know where we’re going? Has it occurred to us that the lighting is far too dim for us to see things as clearly as we claim to see? But we’ve got it all figured out, right? How can we possibly know the bigness of our sovereign King yet be so arrogant? How can we draw near to His throne and not be humbled? Where are the merciful? Where are the peace-makers? Lord, will You open our eyes to see ourselves? Will You open our ears to hear one another and to hear from You?
Church, we know our sacrifices are a stench in the nostrils of God unless they are from a humble heart. But even the blind eyes of the world can see we’ve not been humble. They hate the Church, but it’s not because we look like Jesus—it’s because we don’t. We are too afraid to be humble and surrender control. We instead believe, from our finite perspective—compounded by our echo-chambers—we’re objectively right on every position. How can this be?
Tell me, how is it we have an understanding and grasp of the Truth that, according to us and those who agree with us, is unquestionably more accurate than that of our siblings in the faith? Is the Spirit in us more real than the Spirit in them? Is it our intellect that gains us special access to truth? Our experience? Our heritage? Has God anointed and appointed us as arbiters of His will? Lord, humble us. Please, humble us.
What if, instead of “us versus them” it is just “us”? Is it possible for us to celebrate the diversity of ways God moves through His people to accomplish His will… rather than halt the mission to belabor all the finer points of doctrine?
How can we hate our brothers and call it love?
How can we hate our sisters and call it love?
Let’s remember: We owe one another love. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It doesn’t insist on its own way; it’s not aggressively reactionary; it doesn’t celebrate unrighteousness. Love rejoices in the truth, wherever it may be found. Love perseveres in all seasons with an unfailing hope and trust in the One who never fails. All these things we fight to establish and maintain in our kingdoms will pass away, but love endures forever. We cannot love God unless we love our brothers and sisters. We cannot walk in the Light unless we love.
If we find encouragement in Christ and consolation in love, if we have fellowship by the same Spirit in each of us, let us come together for the sake of our shared mission. Let us outdo one another in showing honor, counting others more significant than ourselves. Together, we can be the Body of Christ we ought to be. Together we can look to Him, the Head of the Church, and know where we are to go, when to go, and how to get there. Together, we can move through this world displaying the goodness of our God, embodying the power of the gospel. Together, we can be the ministers of reconciliation we’re called to be. Together, we can be the workers of ministry we’re equipped to be. Together, we can be lovers of kindness and doers of justice, who walk humbly united in Christ.
Father, do You hear this cry? Surely You do.
Spirit, do You intercede this groaning? Surely You do.
Jesus, do You know the pain of our brokenness? Surely You do.
Lord of all, will You heal us? Will You unite Your people? Surely You will.
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