Ever since I first felt God calling me into vocational ministry, I've been aware of the diversity of the Christian faith, and Christ's call for Unity. It is something for which my heart breaks. I long for more unity in the Church. I want to see more collaboration across the congregational and denominational boundaries that we've put up. Even so, my local congregation is always a vacuum pulling me within its own issues and people. It is a constant reorientation towards the community and collaboration with other Christians. I thought it would be a good idea for me to write down why Unity is important to me.
Because God Is One
God's nature is relationship and unity. It is the definition of Trinity, three-in-one and one-in-three, the Triune God. God is not divided against himself, and we shouldn't be either. God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is committed to salvation for everyone. God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is committed to making all things new. The persons of the Trinity all working together as one for the common vision and mission. Jesus announced it, and he gave us authority to accomplish it. Let's do it, together! God is one and we should be too.
Because God Is Love
This is one of the few places I'll prooftext and say something like, "The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it." Not because of the one or two verses in 1 John 4 (verses 8 and 16) but because when you read the Bible cover to cover, the whole tenor of scripture includes this nature of God: Love. Plus, one of my spiritual fathers, John Wesley, emphasized love as God's defining characteristic. It illumines all the others. God is Love, and we should be too.
Because I Love The Church
I love my sisters and brothers in Christ. I love The Church in all of its forms and by all the different names it goes by: Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, Orthodox, Presbyterian, etc. I'm not just saying it. I try to show it. I try to lead my congregation to do the same. I love the Church even though I disagree with some of its individuals. I love the Church even though it's full of sinners and hypocrites. I love the Church because Christ loves the Church, and his Spirit is in me. Love keeps no record of wrongs, so I do my best not to as well. I love The Church, so I love being with other Christians, and want to be around them as much as possible. Especially when we work together on God's mission.
Because Love Unifies
The nature of Love is to bring people together. The fruit of the spirit is Love, not division. Division and fighting is the fruit of evil. When we are focused on conflict and division, we miss the higher calling to love one another. Love bears all things because Love is patient or long-suffering. Love has the ability to overcome our divisions and conflicts and fighting, and bring us together. For me, I think of sports teams. When they have "chemistry" they are unified, working together towards a common goal outside of themselves. When a team is fighting against each other to pad their own individual stats and get more individual playing time, then they lose sight of the greater goal. Or, think of a marriage relationship. When all the couple sees is their conflict, they are against each other, when really, they are supposed to be a team, working together. We too, should be united by our love, working as a team together for God's greater good.
To accomplish the mission
Division hurts The Church's ability to accomplish the mission that Christ has given us. It paralyzes us. We are to be known by our love, not for our fighting and what we are against. We certainly shouldn't be against each other within the church. We should stand together against evil, oppression, and injustice so that people may know Christ's love. Division kills our witness and testimony to Christ's work in the world. Division clouds our message and confuses people about Christianity and God.
I do some ministry on a college campus, and lots of students ask me "What religion are you?" usually meaning "what denomination?". I often have a hard time answering that question and explaining the differences in the brief moments I have. I usually end with "we're open to everyone." My priority is not salvaging an institution, but connecting people with the movement of God, so I have a hard time understanding why denominational loyalty is important. I know why I am United Methodist, and why I continue to choose to practice my faith that way, but more and more, I realize that doesn't make me better than any other Christian out there, just different. In fact, I'm always looking to adopt helpful practices and ideas from other traditions so I can grow in my faith. When I face a differing idea with another brother and sister in Christ, I try to put myself in their shoes, and often respond "you might be right." I hope others would do the same for me.
Unity will show the world what is really important to us, The Church. Instead of being seen as judgmental hypocrites who don't care, we might truly be known as those who Love in amazing unbelievably generous ways. Fortunately, God's mission is not dependent upon our ability to Unite, but also, God's ability to Unite is not limited by us. I just wish we'd be as committed to Loving one another as God is to loving us.
I am a Software Developer, a career shift made in 2018. So far, I have experience with C# .Net and Angular. I continue to let curiosity lead me into learning new technologies. I plan to share what I learn along the way about technology and personal/career life. Previously, my vocation was United Methodist pastor. So in addition to coding, I'll share about theology, the Church and The Bible. I also enjoy running, music, and I'm a deeply committed father and husband. Maybe my experiences will help you. I know it helps me to share.