James Emery White’s , in his new book ( Christ Among the Dragons: Finding Our Way Through Cultural Challenges), zeroes in the issue of civility.
Civility is a huge issue today. Incivility has overtaken the news media (not all of it but too much of it). We have Rush Limbaugh and we have Michael Moore. We have crossfire shows that have one goal: pit enemies, provoke emotions, and draw in an audience. It’s like the medievals watching a beheading.
James Emery White says there’s a bitter blog dedicated to tearing down the pastor of every megachurch. (I had not heard that; it’s sad if it’s true; it’s even sadder if you are doing it.)
What is his appeal? White appeals to two things, which are really only one: he appeals to love and to unity. If we have love we will have unity; if we have unity, it’s because we have love. If you want unity, you will eventually be challenged to love.
Here are his words about what Jesus said in John 17: “The observable love between those who called themselves his [Jesus’] followers was everything. Why? Jesus said this unity, and this unity alone, would arrest the world’s attention and confirm that he was from the Father” (105).
So, here’s the question: What can we do to attain this unity? What can we do when we find ourselves at odds with fellow Christians?
What are the two top things we can do to attain more Christian unity?
But White is not being utopian here: he distinguishes the powerful relational unity of the Christian faith from uniformity and unanimity. He knows the unity is to be found at the Lord’s Table, of all places.
What animates this unity is the love of God and the grace of God, along with the absence of anger and envy among the followers of Jesus.