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Unity needed in America and in churches

To the Editor:
According to www.Christianheadlines.com a National Association of Evangelicals survey of 140 Christian evangelical leaders found that unity is the most pressing need in the Christian church in 2021. Responses to the Evangelical Leaders survey question — What are the needs of the American church in a post-election season? — reveal several common themes: remember Jesus is Lord, focus on evangelism, heal personally and heal communally. However, the most resounding necessity of the church, according to evangelical leaders, is to commit to unity.
Kimberly Hodder of The Salvation Army proposed a way forward for Christians going into 2021, stating, “Our country is in desperate need of unity. Without it, America will be unable to tackle the enormous challenges so many people now face. I believe there is no better means of creating that unity than to proclaim the gospel in both word and deed. So, my prayer is that we will see this moment as an unparalleled opportunity to be the redemptive community that Jesus Christ called us to be.” Both our country and churches need unity. Jesus said in the Bible and President Lincoln repeated, “A house divided against itself can’t stand.” The highest goal of demonic forces, Russia and China and globalists is for Americans to kill each other in a civil war. That would make it easy for them to take over. Evils that cause disunity are pride, disrespectful selfish self-centered people. Things that give us unity is listening and being loving, humble, respectful and gracious. Prayer and the Gospel of Jesus is what can change us to be loving, humble, respectful and gracious.
What does the Bible say the church should do when confronted with the option, do we sacrifice truth for unity or unity for truth? In Matthew 10:34, Jesus said He came to bring a sword and not peace or unity. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” So Jesus put His priority on truth. Matthew 10: 35-36 says, “For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law — a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” When you stand for truth, no matter how much love you show, your enemies will be revealed and attack you and they may even be your family and friends. Our highest allegiance is to the Word of God. Our highest and utmost priority regardless of what it costs — even if it costs family, or friends, is the truth, the Word of God the Holy Bible. Pastor Vance Havner wrote, “We live what we believe; the rest is religious talk.” Living what we believe requires speaking Biblical truth and Biblical warnings no matter how negative or offensive it may be to the spiritually immature. Jude 3:1-4 commands all believers to contend for the faith that is under attack from false teachers. It’s Christian to name false teachers as Paul does in Second Timothy and John named Diotrophes in III John 9. Truth is never negative to those who seek and serve the Truth. Only Jesus is the way, the truth and life.
The truth draws a line. It’s a line of division. It’s a line that forces a decision of choosing sides. It’s simple — to crucify self or compromise; obedience or disobedience, light or darkness, wheat or tares, sheep or goats, wise or unwise, life or death. Ephesians 4:11-13 tells us to strive for unity in the faith. It doesn’t say, “Unity in peace,” but rather in the faith. Truth of the faith is the standard to walk in and live. The Bible says live at peace as much as it is up to you. In differences in opinions Christians should remain civil. Christians should never waste valuable time and resources attacking each other on secondary matters such as what clothes should be worn or what music to sing. As someone said, “in the essentials unity, in the non-essentials liberty and in all things love.” Who Jesus is, the gospel and the fundamental doctrines of the Bible are essentials and are non-negotiable.
Jesus prayed for unity in John Chapter 17 when Jesus asked the Father, “that they may be one as we are one,” speaking of the disciples and those who would come after them (us) We are commanded to work hard to protect the unity of the Christian church. (Eph. 4) This means that selfishness and petty bickering must not continue among God’s people. Do all things without complaining and arguing. (Philippines 2:14) In matters of personal preference we should demonstrate flexibility and show love to others always acting in a mature and godly way. (Romans 12:3; 14:3) we should be slow to offence or anger and always ready to reconcile with a brother in Christ. We need to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. On nonessentials we can agree to disagree. Dr. Gary Friessew said, “Part of God’s design for the Church is that it should successfully manifest unity in diversity.”
It was God’s intent that people with divergent personalities, nationalities, gifts, abilities, tastes and backgrounds should become unified in Christ Jesus without sacrificing personal distinctiveness (1 Cor. 12:12-27, Col 3:11) Accordingly God doesn’t view differences of opinion in non-essential things as a bad thing. What God desires isn’t uniformity of opinion but unity of relationship. (Romans 15:5-7) Some disagreements are expected. Our responses to these differences and conflicts is what matters. “For there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” 1 Cor. 11:19
In these last days many people won’t accept sound Bible doctrine and not everyone wants to hear the truth. The Bible says “be not conformed to this world…and teach the whole counsel of God.” These can cause disunity. The Bible praised the Bereans. The Bereans did what 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says to do. “Prove (test) all things: hold fast that which is good.” Acts 17:11 says, “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures (Bible) every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
The Bereans didn’t take and accept everything Paul taught for the sake of unity. They tested everything he said to the Bible regardless of unity. The Bereans were not focused on unity. They were focused on truth. If unity and peace were the focus of Jesus, he wouldn’t have confronted the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Jesus would have gone along with them. Jesus said, “You brood of vipers!” We aren’t to compromise truth for the sake of unity. Truth is to be the source of our unity. If unity isn’t in truth, then it’s in error. The people were in unity not long after Noah, however, that wasn’t the unity God desired. The place became known as Babel. We don’t trust political leaders, popes, teachers, pastors or anyone for the sake of peace or unity. We trust people when they are proven by the Word of God. It’s God’s truth that sets us free, not unity or peace! The focus of the believers’ walk and life is to be truth — the Bible. It’s far better and more pleasing to God to be divided by truth than united in error!

D.D. Nave
Elizabethton