Tag Archives: agreement

The Lies About Church Unity

Tuesday Re-mix –

“…being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3

I am now more than a year past the half-century mark on this earth.  Quite the accomplishment, it seems to me.  When I was a teenager, I honestly never wanted to still be alive by this age.  It just seemed unbearably old to me then.  I have recently changed my mind about that.

I see a lot of things differently now.  I have developed a patience…a longer-term perspective on things.  I have learned that many of the things I thought as a young adult were just lies.  Here are some of the lies I have checked off my list as “learned” over the years:

If you can afford the mortgage payment, you can afford the house.

If you can afford the car payment, you can afford the car.

No matter how old you get, you’re never more than 90 days from getting back in shape.

You can work long and hard, or you can get lucky…lasting success can come either way.

When two good people get married, good marriages always result.

Lies, lies, lies…all of them.  In all these ways, I have learned that the same God who created the world in six days expects us to take significantly longer and work significantly harder to accomplish anything of real worth.

It makes perfect sense to me, then, that our job of “preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” in the church is a tedious, difficult, long-term job which we cannot expect to happen overnight.  Because we are talking about real, human relationships, this job is messy and complicated and takes lots and lots of intentional effort.  In short, our responsibility of preserving the unity of the Spirit …

Unity Through Diversity

Tuesday Re-mix –

There is a public park in Luhans’k, Ukraine where my ministry has gone to work with churches in the past. The park is in a “forest”. It is a beautiful place. But there is something eerie about it. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but there is something about it which just doesn’t seem right. You feel like you are out in nature, but not really. Then you learn the story…the “park” is a man-made forest built by the Nazis. The trees are all lined up! Then it’s not eerie anymore…it’s just funny.

I had a long conversation with “Thomas”, a church leader whose church was blessed with a diversity of people. The topic of the conversation was worship styles, but the principle at issue was much larger than that. When confronted with the reality that a variety of preferred worship styles (I usually refer to them as “languages”) existed in his church, this leader sternly refused to use any other styles other than the one they currently used, the one they had been using for many decades. His premise was this: in our worship we must stay unified, with a common “language” or style, because the more homogenous we are, the stronger we are…diversity only weakens us. Hmmm. It flustered me a little, because it was an entirely new argument for me. I honestly never thought anyone could make an argument against diversity among God’s people. Frankly, pictures of a Nazi forest came to mind.

I have always seen our diversity as an incredible strength. It challenges us, to be sure. It is difficult at times, to be sure. But it stretches our understanding of God and of one another. It is that whole “you complete me” thing. I actually am energized being …

Understanding the Rules of Engagement

Tuesday Re-mix –

My South African friend, Frank, tells a great story about being in a motorcycle gang when he turned his life over to the Lord.  A member of the gang confronted him: “So, I hear you’re a Christian now.”  “That’s right,” said Frank.  The gang member continued, “So, if I hit you, you have to turn the other cheek.”  “That’s right,” said Frank, “That’s what the scripture tells me.”  So the gang member belted Frank, right across the face.  Frank obediently turned the other cheek.  The gang member hit him again, maybe a little harder this time.  Frank straightened himself out, looked back at the gang member…and flattened him.  Then Frank told him, “Scripture gives no further instructions after that.”

It’s important to know the rules of engagement.

In the Christian church, the rules of engagement are all spelled out for us in God’s Word.  The Bible, then, becomes the cultural guideline for all of our interaction with one another, whether in times of conflict or in times of agreement.  In most Christian churches, the Bible is held among the very highest of values.  Understanding that culture (i.e., the rules of engagement), then, requires understanding God’s Word.  I think it is fair to say that, in the church today, one of the critical limiting factors to finding peace with one another is Biblical illiteracy.  By the same token, all of the most effective peacemakers I know in the church, past or present, have had a pretty good working knowledge of scripture.

In the secular world, at least in our culture, the highest value in mediation is the agreement.  In other words, that the parties agree is what matters most.  It doesn’t matter so much whether the agreement is fair or unfair or good or bad.  If the parties