My beautiful wife took me whitewater rafting for my birthday a couple weeks ago. I had only been whitewater rafting once before, and we each had our own individual raft. This time, we were in a bigger raft with a family of 4 and our guide. We had never met the other family that joined us or the guide prior to getting into the raft together.
As we set off down the river, we practiced our paddle strokes. The guide kept telling us how important it was that we all move together. He stressed that if we couldn’t move in unison, then we weren’t going to go in the right direction. This proved to be true. There were times when we were going through rapids that we were operating like a well-oiled machine, and we handled the rapids with little difficulty. Other times, it would seem like we were all going our own way. When this happened, things would go sideways on us, literally.
As I sat there and thought about how we need to learn how to better move in unison, I couldn’t help think about the Church. When I say church, I mean all churches. I just kept thinking about how we need to do a better job at being united.
Paul talks about this in Philippians 2:1 & 2, “If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”
Paul is begging the church to work together in this passage. The issue today is that we want to focus on what divides us rather than what unites us. There are countless denominations that differ from one another theologically. We have built our walls around certain doctrines agreeing that if you stay on your side, then we’ll stay in ours. The church shouldn’t be about building walls, it should be about tearing them down.
I’m not suggesting that we should ignore our theological convictions, but we shouldn’t allow them to prevent us from working together to do good in this world. We need to be “intent on one purpose,” and that purpose is to share the love of God and tell people about our savior. If we all believe that this the main thing, we shouldn’t allow the other things to separate us.
The Church should be about love and unity. There is so much more that unites us than divides us, so let’s focus on those things. We will always be able to accomplish significantly more working together than on our own or, as is too often the case, against each other.
This world has become all about drawing lines in the sand and separating ourselves from anyone on the other side. That’s not how the Kingdom of God should be nor is that how it was designed to be. We need to humble ourselves, get over our differences, and show the world that we can unite in God’s love despite our disagreements. Then the world will be able to see that, truly, God’s love is really what matters the most to us.