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Snares of the Modern Church – Part IX: Superficial Unity

by | Aug 18, 2023

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In the fascinating journey through the snares that entangle the modern church, the lure of “Cultural Appeasement” in Part VIII highlighted the ways in which church leaders and congregations can be ensnared by the desire to satisfy worldly desires. Now, we turn our attention to another deceptive snare: “Superficial Unity.” Unlike genuine spiritual unity, which unites believers around the unchanging truth of God’s Word, superficial unity seeks to present an image of harmony at the cost of diluting or even forsaking sound doctrine.

At first glance, unity seems a noble goal, and indeed it is one that Christ Himself prayed for (John 17:21). The apostles repeatedly stressed the importance of being of one mind and one accord (Philippians 2:2). However, it is vital to recognize that the unity Christ and His apostles spoke of was never meant to be achieved by compromising the truth or avoiding controversial topics.

In some modern Evangelical congregations, a false sense of unity has taken root, prioritizing pleasant appearances over the bedrock principles of the faith. This misguided pursuit leads to a unity that, in fact, thrives on disunity with the foundational truths of the gospel. Avoiding hard conversations, ignoring vital doctrines, and accepting even egregious errors in belief can give the illusion of unity, but it is a house built on sand.

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Take, for example, the avoidance of challenging topics such as the exclusive claims of Christ or the biblical view of marriage. Some church leaders, fearful of discord, choose to sidestep these issues, aiming to keep the peace. But in doing so, they not only miss opportunities to shepherd their flock in truth but create an environment where contradictions and confusion can fester. This tendency extends into areas of political discourse, particularly in issues that resonate deeply with Christian doctrine and morality.

The political sphere is not devoid of these moral implications either—and many congregations are finding themselves ensnared by the snare of superficial unity when it comes to politics, especially those championed by progressive ideologies. For instance, many Evangelical pastors and church leaders now argue that Christians can hold significant differences in political views, even on matters surrounding abortion or the LGBTQ movement, and yet remain united in Christ. They argue that these are mere “political differences” that are separate from theology and they should not disrupt the fellowship of believers.

However, this outlook is at odds with a Christian worldview, where Scripture clearly defines the sanctity of life and the nature of human sexuality. By avoiding a strong, unwavering stance on these matters and encouraging a form of unity that overlooks clear moral boundaries, these churches are promoting a superficial unity that compromises basic Christian morality.

This ill-conceived pursuit of unity extends to other areas as well, such as social justice movements that often conflict with biblical principles. A desire for social harmony and cultural acceptance leads some to embrace ideologies that are fundamentally incompatible with the teachings of Christ. The result is a façade of unity built on a foundation of contradiction and compromise.

The tragedy of this approach is that it not only weakens the church’s witness to the world but undermines the very unity it seeks to create. True unity cannot thrive where the Word of God is marginalized or where beliefs are selectively applied to accommodate a broad range of worldly ideologies. Rather than forging bonds of genuine fellowship, superficial unity only creates an unstable alliance that ultimately fails to satisfy the soul and honor the Lord. It’s a unity that looks appealing on the surface but crumbles under the weight of inconsistencies and unfaithfulness to the truth of Scripture.

The New Testament is clear on the matter: “There must be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). This is a call to a unity that is robust and resilient, anchored in the truth and unwilling to compromise on essentials. It’s not a unity that papers over differences for the sake of appearances, but one that is forged in the furnace of sincere belief and shared commitment to the truth of God’s Word.

When churches strive for this superficial unity, it’s akin to a tree with strong-looking branches but a decayed and rotting core. Outwardly it may seem thriving, but it’s only a matter of time before it collapses under its own weight.

The call to superficial unity can be subtle, and it may take discernment to recognize and resist it. The challenge lies not in the desire for unity, which is good and God-ordained, but in understanding what true unity is and must be. Anything less is a mirage, a hollow shell that will ultimately crumble. True unity, the unity that Christ prayed for, requires a committed adherence to truth, a willingness to engage with challenging issues, and a commitment to stand firm where Scripture stands, even when it is unpopular to do so. It’s a unity forged not in the absence of disagreement but in the presence of shared belief and mutual submission to the Word of God. It’s a unity that does not just tolerate the truth but celebrates, upholds, and defends it. Anything else is, in reality, unity in disunity, a contradiction in terms that can only lead to confusion and eventually, collapse.

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