Thursday, November 6, 2008

Unity in Perspective

A while back some buddies of mine and I were discussing Guitar Praise, which is the Christian "alternative" to Rock Band. Personally, I hate the idea that we as Christians need alternatives, or even that Christianity would provide an alternative. As I stated my opinion, my buddy stated his, in which he was basically like, "what's the big deal, who cares, let it be!" Another buddy of mine then stated his opinion, his opinion argued more for the need of a game like Guitar Praise. The three of us found out that we have varying and different perspectives on the issue.

Yesterday, one of my buddies, who was part of the conversation we had a while back, sent out an email with a link to a gamer's review of Guitar Praise. I read the review, and then the comment section. In the comment section people voiced positive, negative, and apathetic opinions about the game, more so about the need of the game then about the game itself. I found it very interesting that there were basically the same types of feedback in an open forum of people who would never come in contact with one another that could be found among my buddies and I, who are tied together relationally. More so than our relational tie, we are all believers in, and followers of Jesus Christ.

We would expect to see varying opinions and perspectives in an open forum posted on the World Wide Web. We not only expect to see differing opinions, but we also welcome the clash of varied perspectives. We do not expect a unified voice in a place where people from anywhere and everywhere are given a voice. As much as we expect and welcome a variety of perspective in some places, we mostly do not expect and/or welcome differing opinions among believers or in church.

When I looked at the comments left on the forum, and compared them to the comments my buddies and I shared with each other I came to the question, "what is unity?" One of the most beautiful thoughts to me about Christ is that He unifies people. The first believers in Christ were marked by their unity, their oneness. Unity is a major desire of mine, and many others, for Christians today. As much as unity was a mark of early Christians, fragmentation is the mark of Christians today. Possibly fragmented because we have misunderstood that unity in Christ welcomes varied perspectives and opinions.

Forever I have romanticized unity as a magical place where people always see eye to eye, have all the same convictions and understanding, and no one ever argues. My romanticized notions have been challenged though. As I read the gamer review and the comments left, and as I thought about the differences expressed among strangers and those expressed among friends (friends who are "unified" in Christ) the reality of America set in. America is united by ideals laid out in a constitution. There is no singular color of skin, blood line/tribe, or religion that binds America together to be called the "United States of America". America is ethnically, socially, religiously, and in many other ways diverse! We are united by such ideals that we are alloted the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In much the same way, unity for Christians lies in our belief that Jesus Christ is Lord and in the mission He set us on to tell everyone the good news (gospel) that He is the way, truth, and life.

The romanticized idea that I had of unity was a dull gray scale, true unity is full color. As I am writing, I am looking out the window at an array of blues, greens, browns, oranges, yellows, and even different shades of white. All of the colors I am seeing are giving life to the view before my eyes. All of the colors have found themselves out side my window, in one picturesque scene. I can only imagine how bland this one frame before my eyes would be if everything were blue and faded into the backdrop of the sky, leaving only shadows to distinguish one tree from the other or the stone fence from the street. In all likelihood, I would not have a real depth perception if all of this scene was a blue that faded into the sky. The full colors of the view my eyes are seeing is like varied perspectives and different opinions that are found amongst Christians. They are not the picture but are what the picture consist of.

For years we as Christians have been separating ourselves. We have taken one big beautiful picture and divided it into small, dull, single color pictures. We have failed to see that the beauty of the unity Christ offers is the perspectives and opinions of the people He unites from all walks of life, every social status, and every ethnic or cultural backdrop that add color, depth, and dimension.