Jesus prayed for His future followers, which would be us, in John17, and asked God the Father to make us one even as Jesus and the Father were one. Jesus declares that our genuine unity would be enough to convince the world of the truth and reality of God, and that Jesus was sent by the Father.
We are commanded by God to pursue unity and peace with each other, that we are to work at it diligently. So exactly what does that mean, what is it that we are supposed to do. I believe the Ford Motor company makes cars and trucks far superior to those of all other companies. I have a good friend who believes that Fords are junk. Does one of us need to switch our car and truck company loyalty in order to be unified, and if one of us doesn’t can we still be friends?
There is a big difference between unity and uniformity or conformity. Uniformity says that we need to believe the same things, hold common values and priorities in life, and even like the same things. Unity, on the other hand allows us to have totally different beliefs, values, opinions, and likes, and still be good friends and enjoy each others company and fellowship. We can have great unity with others that are totality different if we have the character traits of patience, self-control, deference, and kindness.
Right now in our country and in our church there is a growing difference of opinion on the solution for the coronavirus pandemic. There are those who feel strongly that we need to keep doing all the things that are mandated and strongly suggested by the government to prevent the further spread of the virus. And in the other corner, we have those who feel strongly that the whole thing has been overhyped by the media, that the government has way overstepped their constitutional authority and violated our constitutional rights in the process, and is destroying the economy and the lives of very many people who will lose their businesses and livelihoods.
So, how do we maintain good unity in the midst of the current situation and strongly felt opinions and positions. Do we all need to agree and if so how do we decide which way we are going, and what do we do with those who decide they aren’t changing their views. Do I need to preach a sermon on why one of the views is God’s view, and if anyone refuses to conform then they need to go to a different church? That would not produce unity, just outward conformity.
Tomorrow I will give the keys to maintaining good unity in the midst of great diversity of opinion and belief. This is very important information because unity is the major reason God blesses and uses a church.