Have you ever had the unsettling experience of being in a conversation and having very little idea of what the other person is talking about? You think to yourself, “I am embarrassed that I don’t know about this. It seems like I should have known about this.” I’ve had that feeling in my local ministerium. I’ve been studying the Bible and theology for 30 years, and there will be times when my pastoral colleagues in the ministerium are discussing passages in Scripture or having a theological opinion about culture, and I have never heard what they are talking about. While it is disconcerting, I am thankful for it. Why? Keep reading. It has everything to do with unity.
Unity is what Jesus taught in John 17 when he prayed that his disciples would be one as he and the Father are one. We see the teaching of unity through the New Testament, rooted in the “one another” statements that David Hundert taught us this past week.
This desire for unity is why I have been mystified and frankly, disappointed, by the way some people have responded to their connection to the church family in recent years.
It’s why I preached the Purple Church sermon last year. If you don’t remember that one, it was about the idea that we American Christians should not identify as red or blue. When I say, “red or blue,” I am referring to the colors of the two main political parties in our nation. Red is Republican. Blue is Democrat. I’m not saying that it is wrong to be registered in a political party, and that everyone should be independent. What I am saying is that Christians’ allegiance is not to a political party. Our allegiance is to Christ and his Kingdom. That means people in one church family will have a variety of perspectives about political, social and cultural issues. And that is okay. The church of Jesus is not red or blue. It is purple. In other words, the church should be a place where all people mix together in harmony. God desires oneness. God desires that we focus on his Kingdom, not on a political party. That means we who are part of the church family need to rise above partisan politics and love one another. We in a church family keep the main thing the main thing; a relationship with our living God is our top priority. As the song goes, “They will know we are Christians by our love.”
Therefore I believe it is very important that Faith Church participates in our local ministerium. We have something like 45 churches in our school district, but only 15-20 participate in the ministerium. Author John Armstrong titled his book Your Church Is Too Small because too often churches or denominations are isolationist, unwilling to work together. God desires unity.
God is not talking about uniformity. Uniformity is when the people in a group think, talk, dress, and act the same way. The military is a uniformity. Not the church. In the church we practice unity in diversity. The ministerium demonstrates unity in diversity. In the ministerium we have Lutherans, Mennonites, Methodists, Pentecostals, Evangelicals, and more. We put aside doctrinal differences and seek to make Christ our focus. Sometimes I am in Ministerium meetings listening to other pastors explain their view of a situation, and I think, “Sounds like they are using a different language,” because their theology and history and approach to a situation is so different from mine. But that’s okay. We can have different viewpoints, but still work together in unity for Christ. We are to be a people who practice unity.
As Ezekiel continues giving the prophetic word, we find out that God has another desire for his people. Check back in to the next post to find out what it is.