I’ve got a lot of things running through my head this week. After finishing the book Crazy for God by Frank Schaeffer I have been reflecting on my own journey, my wonderful partner-in-life Vicki and her family, and the circles of friendships and relationships that have in the past and present been part of our ‘world.’
True union does not absorb distinctions but actually intensifies them. The more one gives oneself in creative union to another, the more one becomes oneself. What a paradox! All integrated people have had a lot of intimate and integrated relationships.
That’s already mirrored in the template of the Trinity itself, the pattern of all reality. There we have perfect giving and perfect receiving among three and they are all utterly and totally themselves, too.
Unity is not achieved by everyone thinking alike, believing the same thing, holding to the same political agenda, or acting in the same way. Unity is a choice that is made to join together for a common purpose or vision and has as its foundation the humble, servant attitude of Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a human being,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! (Phil 2:6-8 TNIV)
In his book, Schaeffer writes about his journey as the son of prominent Evangelical thinkers, authors and speakers, Francis and Edith Schaeffer (of L’Abri Fellowship). His behind-the-scenes perspective displays the duality of many well-known Christian leaders of the 70s and 80s who, for the sake of unity within the Evangelical movement, showed one side to the world while thinking and living the opposite.
While this shows a unified front to the outside world, it eats like a cancer whoever lives in this way (ironically, Francis Scaheffer’s Magnum Opus was his film series and book How Should We Then Live .) Francis’ son Frank shares his struggles with his family’s way of life and how they, while showing themselves as important Evangelical icons, never fully ‘bought into’ the mainstream Evangelical ideology.
I’ll attempt to write more about the Scaheffers in a future post. The point I need to take away from all of this in my own life is that being who I am is essential to living life fully in the reign of a God who himself is Unconditional Love, Truth and Life. Unity demands honesty both with ourselves and others. And since true unity does not hinge on being or thinking the same as another, then the revelation of our true self (ideally) should not bring condemnation from our brothers and sisters, but a humble grace of acceptance.
Our problem is we like to ‘fix’ things, and that often overflows into a desire to ‘fix’ people. If people are not thinking the same way we are, we believe it’s our duty to get them on the right track. William C. Green writes:
There’s a fix-it activism that undoes caring by overreaching. Others may not want to be “reached,” at least by us, at least right now. Some hard conditions are not meant to be addressed, at least by us, at least right now. Sometimes we are meant to pass on by. This can be a cop-out. It can also be a neglected part of wisdom that accepts our limitations and doesn’t confuse humility with not caring, or mistake our judgment for God’s. (from StillSpeaking, 14 October, 2010)
Or, in the words of The Beatles’ song, ‘Let it be.’ Unity doesn’t demand that I get you to be like me, nor indeed that all people in one community or congregation believe the same things. I wrestle with this a lot and I know it has been an issue in many groups with whom I have been or am presently involved.
Yet, if we are eager to join in the amazing work of the kingdom of God here on earth–if it is our honest desire that God’s will is done here on earth as it is in heaven–then this will demand of us a unity never-before seen in our world. It will require a setting aside of prideful distinctions of class, status, or theological labels as well as abandoning the urge to ‘fix’ things. It will necessitate that sometimes–often–we ‘let it be’ so that we aren’t distracted from the likeness we share.
This is my desire.
Let it be so.