In a recent post in his Church and Culture newsletter, James Emery White quotes author David Aikman, who noted the extent to which certain Christians have turned themselves into the “self-appointed attack dogs of Christendom. They seem determined to savage not only opponents of Christianity, but also fellow believers of whose doctrinal positions they disapprove. A troll through the Internet reveals websites so drenched in sarcasm and animosity that an agnostic, or a follower of another faith tradition interested in what it means to become a Christian, might be permanently disillusioned.”
White continues: “When the Bible talks about loving unity, it doesn’t mean uniformity, which is everyone looking and thinking alike. And the biblical idea is certainly not to be confused with unanimity, which is complete agreement about every petty issue across the board (though within churches there should be unity of purpose and an agreement on the major issues related to doctrine and mission).
“By unity, the Bible means first and foremost a oneness of heart—a relational unity. Being kind to one another, gracious to one another, forgiving of one another—not assuming the worst, shooting the wounded, or being quick to be suspicious. Biblical unity is about working through conflicts, avoiding slander and gossip, and being generous in spirit. And it is precisely this spirit which seems to be lacking in the church as much as the world.
“We often marvel at the growth of the early church, the explosion of faith in Christ in such numbers and speed that in only a blink of history, the Roman Empire had officially turned from paganism to Christianity. We look for formulas and programs, services and processes…
“The simple truth is that they answered Jesus’ prayer. Yes, as Michael Green has noted, they shared the gospel like it was gossip over the backyard fence. But what did people find when they responded to the evangelical call? As Tertullian noted, the awed pagan reaction to the Christian communal life was, ‘See how they love one another.'” (Click here to continue reading.)