The greatest witness we can show to the world is unity. The way we hang together no matter what, forgiving each other when we hurt someone, correcting and (perhaps more importantly) taking correction from each other, and our reputation as a community that loves each other – these are the great witness that reveals God’s holiness.
Sadly, that is not our reputation.
“I would rather have 100 disagreements with someone at work than one with someone at church. Church people are mean and fight dirty!” This is a true quote I overheard a few years ago, and it broke my heart. We in the church are known not for being different than the culture around us but for being mostly the same in our behaviors and habits. We are seen as hypocrites who judge everyone else for their sinful behaviors while partaking in them ourselves. Our denominations, our church infighting, and our bickering, gossip and grumbling have deadened our ability to speak to anyone about the love of God.
So what can we do? We can remember the words of the Psalmist: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!… For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.” We can remember Paul’s critique of the Corinthians, who allowed the wealthy to use Communion as a way of expressing their superiority over the poor. And we can try really living our faith 24/7 instead of only when we are at church. Forgive each other every time. Put people above anything short of salvation issue heresy. And put unity above everything else.