Misunderstood Unity

February 23, 2014

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I work in an organization which sends many short-term teams as well as develops working groups around projects.

I hear a repeated statement coming out of their meeting times.

“Give us unity….”

I prayed this with my teams for many, many years….until I realized what it meant.

Now, when I hear teams pray this, I cringe.

You have no idea what you are asking for.

Misunderstood unity believes the following:

“If we are unified, we will never fight.”
“Unity means we will agree and have similar views on the decision we face.”
“Unity is standing in a circle holding hands singing “Bind us Together.”

Wrong.

That view of commonality is not unity, it is cultic.

Group think is dangerous.

In Scripture, the most common analogy given for unity is the body, with many members working together. The members and their talents they bring are not the same, but the goal is.

Misunderstood unity champions the absence of conflict.

Think of a team which never disagrees. They may do one thing well, but not many. And it will only last for a season.

True unity does not sidestep disagreement, but embraces it knowing it will make the team stronger.

Unity is found not in the absence of conflict, but in the resolution of it.

I cringe when teams pray for unity, because they are asking for trouble and tension. But teams, marriages, and organizations which embrace the conflict and work through it, are the strongest ones.

There is an interesting passage in Scripture which is often quoted. Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name,there am I among them.” 

We cite this as a means for unity or even, if we are honest, getting what we want. Grab two or three others and it is part of the magic formula to get your prayers answered!

Verse 20 is not meant to be taken on its own. It is the concluding thought to Jesus’ instructions on dealing with conflict. Matthew 18 is the famous passage for conflict resolution.

What were the two or three were gathered to do? In Matthew 18, they were meeting together to solve problems and tensions between them.

Want Jesus in your midst? Desire to take your marriage, team, or organization further?

Don’t ignore conflict, resolve it. When two or three gather to resolve their differences, Jesus is in their midst!

Everyone agreeing about all issues in a team is groupthink, which is dangerous, even downright cultic.

If spouses agree on everything in a marriage, you have succeeded in silencing your spouse and their uniqueness. Or you married the opposite sex version of yourself. Not too appealing as you dwell on that one!

Could we even go so far to say….

If you want unity…..pick a fight?

Then resolve it!!

So keep praying for unity, but please understand what you are asking for.

You are inviting God to bring different opinions and conflict, but as you do; your team will be stronger.

You will be the body.

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God