Unity Is Our Polar Star – Rev. Micah James

Romans 15:5 ESV - "May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, "

As I consider some of the great debates of my generation, I am constantly reminded that many of the debates and issues we are encountering today are similar if not the same as those of the previous generations. One of the primary debates of any generation has been how much faith should inform culture and how much culture should inform the practice of faith. One of my favorite Disciples of Christ scholars, Harold Lunger, has commented at length about this issue as it faces the church in its modern context.

When you turn on the news and find it harder and harder to discern between what is real and what is fake, what is distraction and what is action, we need a place where we can come together, a place where we are able to speak civilly to one another…a place where we can mess up. A place where we can apologize, talk to one another, and where we can remain in community after all the discussion.

Lunger suggests “the church needs to find some means of pooling all its resources of knowledge and skill in an effort to analyze the cultural problems which Christian confront, so that every member may have a better understanding of the will of God regarding these issues.” This accessing of resources is not to be done in isolation but within the ecclesial community. For Lunger, social action is both private and public. In suggesting how best to approach this task, he suggests “each congregation needs to encourage its members to think through together, in a Christian spirit, even the most controversial issues which they confront as individuals and as citizens.”

Think through together. What a beautiful thing it would be to research, talk, debate, agree, disagree, think, and remain unified as Christian brothers and sisters!

To those who might give pause to engaging in such difficult conversations within the context of the church, Lunger encourages the church to be bold and claim that the church is strong enough to engage in such an activity. He bases this claim on his understanding of Christian unity as a source of strength, not weakness within the Christian context, and suggests, “Christian unity is not so fragile that it can be preserved only at the price of social irrelevance.”

God did not make the church fragile, but strong. Strong enough to be the place where reconciliation can be birthed and unity can be forged.

Prayer: God, you keep giving us second chances through your Son, our Savior. Likewise, teach us to be gracious people who see your image in each person. Teach us to celebrate and encourage the gifts you have given to each of us. In the name of Jesus, Amen. (Written by: Mark Stephenson, Disability Concerns, Christian Reformed Church)

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