Hard as it is to believe, Christians have everything they need to “be one.”
I played softball in a community league when I was a teenager. A few of us went to the same school, but we didn’t know each other the first time we stepped out under the lights together. We were strangers in gray polyester uniforms and orange baseball caps. From a distance, you couldn’t tell one girl from another.
At the start of our opening game, there was a palpable feeling of possibility. My teammates were talented, and the coach was tough. As he invested time watching us throughout the season, he positioned and repositioned us in different roles, playing to our individual strengths. As each player lived into her giftedness, there was more synergy and success. We even won a few games.
Today, instead of feeling like a single team with diversely gifted players, we find ourselves in a cultural moment where it often feels we’re on different teams altogether. This is true in society at large, and sadly, it seems just as true inside the church.
There are justifiable reasons for division. We have defensible attachments tied to our beliefs. We’ve developed hard-earned and sophisticated ways of managing our fears and preferences, and we want to protect them.
But there was a time when the church was like a brand-new softball team, stepping out onto fresh-cut grass in late summer, individual differences obscured by what they were as a whole: “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit. … They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. … All the believers were together and had everything in common” (Acts 2:4, 42, 44).
Those early believers did not wear gray and orange polyester, but they were nonetheless marked by distinct …