Breaching division through storytelling and sharing communion
Written by Matt V. Unger
Our world is filled with division. From politics to pop culture, people will find anything to disagree over. These divisive attitudes have crept into the Church at large. Fights range from debates over theology, politics, power, worship songs, and even what translation of the Bible to use.
The Church is called to be different from the world around it, but too often, we mirror much of what we see in society. Throughout history, the Church has sadly taken its eyes off God at different times, missing out on unity that can be found in Christ. We’ve experienced moments of the plan that God has for the Church, but quests for power and control keep getting in the way. Too often, we put up false, divisive barriers to Christian community like wealth, political ideology, or church denominations.
Of course, there are issues Christians must stand against, including abuses of power, racism, and oppression. There are also core theological matters we must be unwavering on. But when we look to our Saviour and Lord—in all of His majesty and wonder—and think of all He has done, don’t the issues we let divide us appear so much smaller? When we come together regularly and focus on our God, that should unify us.
We long to experience that complete unity one day. That’s why we rejoice in the hope we have for the future. Together, we look toward the new heaven and new earth, where we will be unified in our worship and devotion to our Lord and Saviour.
But what about now? How do we pursue Christ’s calling for unity in our fractured reality?
The Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 4:4-6, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
This vision is beautiful, yet often hard to put into practice. Unity among a diverse group is part of what should set the Church apart from any other group in the world. This is why it’s crucial for us to share stories when we gather. Hearing what God has done among us helps us to focus less on ourselves and our grievances and more on Him. When I remember God is at work in each person’s life in my church, I can see we are all being transformed by Him as we walk together in following Christ.
Another way of pursuing unity is to acknowledge how impossible it is to grasp the breadth of God’s love. It’s difficult to fully comprehend that a God so amazing would sacrifice Himself for us to give us new life in His kingdom. But not being able to grasp God’s extravagant acts of grace isn’t a bad thing.
Our willingness to be in awe of God means we’re not trying to fit Him into a box and have Him all figured out. This can keep us humble toward the Lord and others. When we regularly take time to be in awe and wonder of God, this will increase our devotion to Him, and build our bonds as the body of Christ.
When I was 18 years old, I experienced a glimpse of this sort of wonder of God that connects us all together. I was taking part in a communion service. I paused before taking the bread and cup and something clicked in my mind. As I meditated on Christ’s sacrifice for me, His love became clearer in my mind. I couldn’t wrap my head around it, but I knew He loved me. At that moment any divisions between me and those around me didn’t matter. What mattered to me was worshiping the God who saved me and all of those gathered.
That is why the communion table is so important for followers of Jesus. It unifies us as we humble ourselves, recognizing we all need the work of Jesus on the cross in our lives. It again brings us to a point of worship. What better thing to bring God’s people together than the great mystery of the cross and of Christ?
May our wonder at Him push us away from divisions and toward each other and greater obedience to Him. May we sing together, take the bread and the cup, hear each other’s stories, and marvel at the love of Christ on the cross. We can’t come close to grasping Him until we will see Him face to face, and we may not experience full unity as a Church until then, either. But may we never stop looking to Him in wonder and worship.