Being part of Church can be really tough. This is not a new issue.
Being part of Church can be really tough.
We may have nothing in common with the people there. We may be the youngest person in our church by 20 years (35 years is my personal best). We may look totally different, socialise with different people and want to spend our time doing completely different things.
(It’s even possible that, at times, we may not actually ‘like’ anyone who goes to our church or youth group or CU...)
This is not a new issue.
Paul, in his first letter to the Church in Corinth, writes that,
“you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
1 Corinthians 12:27
Paul calls the Church to view themselves as part of a bigger whole. The Church is the body of Christ. We are held together by that fact. Viewing the Church as the body of Christ should change the way that we see the Church around us, the way that we see ourselves within it and how we relate the two together. A body is a living, active, moving, growing entity. (Hint: because of this, Church can’t just be the thing that we go to (or don’t go to) on a Sunday!)
Unity seems to mean either tiptoeing around each other, so as not to offend, or only being united with people who think exactly the same way we do.
I think we have been fed a shoddy view of what unity truly looks like by the world. Unity seems to mean either tiptoeing around each other, so as not to offend, or only being united with people who think exactly the same way we do. Unity is hard. Human beings struggle to get along - we love a good fight.
For Unity to work in the body of Christ, there has to be something different about it.
In Colossians, Paul writes that,
“He (Jesus) is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”
Jesus is the head, the leader, the boss of the diverse collective of people who make up his Church. Unity in the Church has to be centred around Christ.
Jesus is the head, the leader, the boss. Unity in the Church has to be centred around Christ.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (who was an incredible guy... well worth a Google!) writes that,
“One is a brother to another only through Jesus Christ. I am a brother to another person through what Jesus Christ did for me and to me; the other person has become a brother to me through what Jesus Christ did for him... Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us.”
In other words- Unity in the body of Christ is not about Christians forcing themselves to really, really ‘like’ each other but about acknowledging that we are already united, tied together, through our mutual need for Christ to be Lord of our lives. Trying to live in the wider body of the Church ONLY works if we acknowledge that Jesus is the head of the body.
It is very easy for us to quickly get into hot water if we try to take Christ out of the equation. We start to forget that the body is made up of lots of different, diverse, unique parts and start to look for all the parts that look most similar to us. OR we let ourselves feel rubbish because we aren’t exactly ‘the same’ as other people.
What we are called to do is to love, honour and respect every member of the Church
So you may not always find it easy to ‘like’ the people who are the Church around you. Ok. What we are called to do is to love, honour and respect every member of the Church as a valuable part of the body of Christ. (I find 1 Corinthians 13 really helpful in thinking about what this love looks like!)
The Church is often waaaay bigger than we think it is. It’s this huge, worldwide, growing collective of people who are trying to follow the God who went to phenomenal lengths to reach out to them. It’s exciting stuff. Jesus unites people who are totally and completely different, but yet uniquely and wholly united around Him. What an incredible thing to show the world!