Have you ever been passive in a relationship over something really important? Perhaps you wanted more kids but were afraid your partner would flip out. Maybe you really wanted to travel but didn’t want to speak up because your partner was very vocal about how much they hated the idea of going overseas.
Whatever the issue, you kept quiet and instead chose to ‘focus on the things you agreed upon’ in the hope of having greater unity.
Only it didn’t cause greater unity did it? No. It actually made things worse.
You began to feel your partner didn’t understand you; you felt restricted from opening up to your partner; you felt afraid of your partner; you felt alone.
It astounds me how much of ‘Christian Unity’ follows this same pattern. We’re afraid of conflict, so we avoid it. We choose to hide our deepest thoughts and feelings, focussing instead on the things that will simply ‘keep the peace’.
Often, those with a more dominant voice, will even begin to publicly denounce viewpoints different from their own, causing others to become even quieter in voicing what they are holding deep in their hearts.
Sadly, Church history is riddled with violence and aggression from people fighting over different viewpoints. Driven by the fear of ‘heresy’ or the pride of ‘being right’, we have remained passive/aggressive towards each other and have succeeded only in learning to hide behind the pretence of simply talking about the things we agree upon.
That is not unity. Nor is it love.
I believe Christian unity comes from being able to maturely engage with our conflicts in an understanding and open manner; learning to understand, respect and wrestle with viewpoints different from our own – especially on the issues that we are most dogmatic in defending.
Until we can learn to do this in a loving manner, I believe our unity will always be a sham and the joy of truly deep intimacy with each other, and the Father, will continue to evade us.