Why Unity Without Like-Mindedness Is Not Unity

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LISTEN NOW

Philippians 4:1-3

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

CONSIDER THIS

How would you like to be Euodia and Syntyche—immortalized forever as those two women who got called out by Paul in the Bible, no less? Their  names are on the board with a checkmark for all eternity to come!

Here’s what I find interesting: Paul is not asking them to get along despite their differences. He’s asking them to “be of the same mind in the Lord.” He could have said, “Stop arguing about this doctrine or that theological issue. It is more important that you get along and be united than it is to be of the same mind.”

There is a way of being unified that is not unity at all. There is a way of getting along in so-called Christian community that makes a mockery of Christian community. Is it more loving to paper over differences for the sake of unity or to own the inability to achieve like-mindedness, work toward mutual respect, and pursue different visions and futures?

It bears repeating. Paul’s goal, as the planter and overseer of churches, is not unity but like-mindedness; not latitudinarianism but love. Remember his earlier word to the Philippians.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. (2:1–2)

Like-minded, same love, one in spirit, of one mind. It strikes me that in the midst of conflict, the remedy is not unity at the expense of like-mindedness. The remedy is to pursue like-mindedness. Even more important is the source of our alignment. Republicans and Democrats will never align around core convictions and vision. They see the world from two very disparate points of view. The best that can be hoped for is some form of compromise.

Christians, on the other hand, must pursue like-mindedness not around their own disparate opinions but around the Word of God. Where divergent interpretations of Scripture cannot be reconciled, both parties must own this. In pursuing like-mindedness, what is most needed is the mind of Christ. Neither should be expected to abandon their conviction in the interest of unity, for it would not be unity at all. It is better to pursue separate visions with mutual respect and some modicum of love, which itself can be harmonizing despite the disparateness, than to live in open disagreement and defiance of one another while calling it unity.

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who prayed that we would all be one just as you are one. Thank you that this is your work to accomplish, not ours. Thank you for calling us to pursue like-mindedness around your Word. Give us a humility that becomes the mind of Christ, that we might learn to love others the way you love them. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. Do you tend to agree or disagree with today’s reflection on unity and like-mindedness?
  2. Why are people willing to compromise on conviction in order to achieve unity?
  3. How do you see the difference between pursuing unity and pursuing like-mindedness?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

 

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I agree that like-mindedness should be our ultimate goal as opposed to some form of external false unity. It’s human nature to be willing to compromise one’s faith in order to give the appearance of agreement. The problem with this approach within the Church is that the underlying source of the disagreement will not simply go away, but rather reappear at some later time. As time goes on the underlying issue will cause the disagreement to fester and only make the situation worse and more complex. This in my opinion sums up the current mess within the UMC. I believe that like-mindedness is the sign of true Christian unity is maturity and is only achievable when we pursue the mind of Christ in humility and live out “a life worthy of our calling “ as described in Ephesians 4:1-16. At this point it would require a massive dose of confession and repentance to heal the American Church and not only the UMC.

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