Competition: Bad. Diversity: Good.
The most embarrassing thing about being apart of the Christian community comes down to one word.
“Me” is so powerful. It’s probably the most potent, hypnotic two letter word in the English language. I can think about “me” all day long and never get enough. In fact, that’s exactly what I’ll do every day if I’m not careful. My meals will be about me. My conversations, my dreams, my job, my friendships, my comfort… they’ll all be about me. All day long. Every single day.
The thing is, “me” is so isolated. So alone. So unattached. Besides, eventually “me,” becomes divisive and polarizing. It leads to contention, strife, and competition.
We live in a society where “me” is king. We love contention and strife (see the success of tabloids). And we certainly love our competition. “Me” rules.
The church should be different, but it isn’t. Unfortunately, and regrettably, “Me” has found its way into most of our churches.
Need proof? Okay. I dare you to ask three people (maybe even people sitting right next to you) if they think churches can work together. And I don’t mean just getting in the same room for lunch, or working a fall festival or whatever. I mean really working together. For the long haul. I mean sharing resources (money, members, time, exposure, etc…), meeting regularly, and presenting a solid front to our communities.
More than likely, you’re gonna get a skeptical look. A crooked smile confirming it as a great idea, followed by a virtual eye roll and a defeated “it’ll never work.”
“Me” is in the way.
There’s absolutely no reason for the church to compete with itself. Deep down, we all know this. Church leaders fully understand Paul when he references believers as the body of Christ, and yet, in our minds, that definition doesn’t reach beyond the doors of our own church. It’s seems we think each church is a separate body of Christ, rather than the collection of all churches being apart of ONE body of Christ.
THINGS in the Way…
Do you remember the kooky “Addams” family? There used to be this thing called… “Thing.” Basically, it was a hand with no body. No arms, no chest, no head. Just five fingers, a palm, and a wrist. The show was really clever with how Thing was used. He did all kinds of things.
That’s kinda how I see all these churches. Like little “Things” running around, estranged from the body. We can do some pretty cool stuff on our own. We can be clever. But we could do so much more if we just connect with the rest of the body. And I don’t mean connecting in a Southern Baptist Convention, kind of way. I’m not talking organizational, title-wearing connecting. I’m talking, taking-it-to-the-streets togetherness. I’m talking about true co-laboring with each other.
To do this, “me” must be crucified. True Christians know that nothing belongs to us… it all belongs to God. We don’t even belong to ourselves. Our work, our families, our time, our ministries, and our churches… it’s all God’s.
The church is the greatest community in the world, both in size and influence! But we perform like the world’s largest dysfunctional family. Everyone’s on their own agenda, doing their own thing. And some of that is fine. God has proven Himself to be a god of diversity. But He does not want that diversity to lead to division. Working together does not mean we all become clones and robo-Christians. God can still use all of us in different, special ways to reach a world full of diverse people, with diverse roadblocks to salvation.
Diversity is a good thing.
But diversity cannot divide us. We must learn to see and celebrate with each other the miracles God continually works through his body. We’re going to have to learn how to serve, minister and party, together.
Jesus defeated “me” when he died on the cross. He turned the world upside down with his life and death. He turned “Me” into “We.” It’s time we got on board! All of us!
[ This Post is Part of the UNITY: John Thirteen Thirty-Five Series ]
Do you think the Church can work together? How so, where do we start?
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