And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk.
(Mark 12:13 ESV)
That’s like saying, “And they sent to him a group of Red Sox fans and Yankees fans”. Or if your the more political type, “they sent to him a group of Tea Party Conservatives and liberal Democrats.” You don’t normally see these two parties together. Yet two groups of people can surprisingly get along if they have a common goal or passion that outweighs the passion by which they are in disagreement. (Consider Simon the Zealot and Levi the tax collector).
But is this true unity?
Allow me to ask this question a different way. Let’s imagine that Red Sox fans and Yankee fans gather together for the noble cause of raising 1 billion dollars to preserve the duck-billed platypus.It is amazing to see these two communities come together for all the charity events. The hate and vitriol between these two lengthy rivals is toned down. They have a much greater end in mind; namely, preserving that cute little platypus.
Months go by and finally they have raised their 1 billion dollars. What happens, though, when baseball season rolls around and they no longer have this platypus thing to worry about? Are they now friends? Of course not. They are no longer united because the goal that had united them was only a temporary goal and not an eternal goal.
How this relates to the church (particularly the SBC)
That begs a question for the church—and more specifically for the SBC. What is our uniting factor? Is it something that is eternal or is it merely temporary? Do we have an eternal end or a temporary end?
The ultimate goal for the church (SBC) relates to the overarching mission and story of God. He is, as Piper as so aptly said, “filling the earth with his glory by rooting out of his kingdom all sin and unbelief, and filling it with [passionate] worshipers from every people, tongue, tribe, and nation.” Our church tweaks that a little by saying “we are a church united to enjoy God’s grace and to extend His glory”.
If we are united around this, which is eternal, then our experience of unity will not be as fragile.
I would like to encourage you to do something either here in the comments or in your own time on your own sheets of paper. Make a list of the things that “unite” your church and/or the SBC. Perhaps even consider things in our history (the issue of slavery, the Conservative Resurgence, etc.) Which of these are eternal? Which of these are temporary?
Tomorrow I want to look at muddying the waters with a-theological unity.