When Choosing Unity Creates enemies...
When we stand with others in unity, I have discovered that there is a compounded favor we can experience. If favor surrounds the righteous like a shield (Psalm 5:12)….and we are standing together….it makes sense that the favor that is upon your life and the favor that is upon my life now overlaps…..we experience increased favor because of our shared proximity.
But what if that also means that your enemies now mistrust me because we stand so closely together?
I’ve noticed this “gotcha” mentality in the Body of Christ. We have doctrinal purists that have literally built their ministries around smoking out supposed heretics and lampooning them with “truth” spears. So, it makes sense that if I choose to stand in unity with a brother from another denomination, those arrows aimed at him will soon be aimed at me. And while we’re on the topic, since when does one’s version of doctrinal purity become the clearest metric for righteousness?
Can you imagine the pharisees’ frustration and sorrow when Jesus chose to eat with “sinners” and “tax collectors?” And even invited them to be His disciples? Likewise, can you imagine the bewilderment of the disciples when Jesus chose to eat at Simon the Pharisee’s home? Jesus was choosing relationship with someone from the same “gotcha” group that was looking to take him down.
It’s not that Jesus ever compromised on truth. He IS truth.
Do you remember Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well? Jesus bucked the cultural norms from His day by engaging in conversation with a lone woman at a well. Early in their dialog, Jesus shares supernatural insight about her life - an unexpected prophetic exposure. In response, she deflects by shifting their conversation to a controversial religious topic - the debate of where her people should worship God. Jesus then carefully and lovingly brings correction to her belief.
While she was diverting their conversation to a safer, cerebral topic, His goal was love. In that moment, his goal was not to maintain doctrinal dominance, but to point her to Himself. His desire was relationship unto redemption. A messiah that didn’t wield doctrine as a weapon of war, nor sacrificed it on the altar of inclusion, but laid down His life on a cross.
And let me be clear, I believe in sound doctrine. I believe in understanding what we believe and why we believe it. As cultural mores continue to shift like sand around us, the bedrock of sound doctrine is more important than ever.
I also believe in friendship with those who look and think differently than us. I believe in setting a table for our neighbors, whoever they are.
Can I love so radically that whom I invite to my table causes people to do a double take?
If Jesus is our model, then let’s do what Jesus did. Let’s set His table.