An area of church health in need of healing is the renewal of unity. Positionally, according to verses like Romans 12:5, we are one, but practically, we are not living as one. It seems we have falsely been conditioned to believe unity or oneness means uniformity. “Look like me, behave like me, think like me and therefore we are united” seems to be the auto pilot default setting that most of us are unaware exists in our church culture. Family, this is not unity. This is assimilation, and this misunderstanding is an example of a false narrative. Before processing through other current false narratives that are collectively functioning, first it’s helpful to define what is meant by false narratives.
A pastor friend, Marcus Pearson, defines a false narrative so well that it is worth repeating his words. He says, “A false narrative is a belief about something that I’ve been conditioned to believe is true & have since discovered is not. I have come to know it’s a false narrative because I’ve been confronted by the truth. These false beliefs impact relationships and communities.” He went on to say that false narratives are shaped by our own experiences, perceptions, and lenses.
I have had to unlearn the false narrative of conformity disguised as unity and oneness. I am still in the process of unlearning the need to surround myself by people who look, think, and have the same lenses I do. I’ve had to unlearn the quest for right answers to pridefully carry as my faith. I’ve had to learn to love the hard questions themselves and how to love wrestling through these questions with others.
Family, we all have ownership in building and leaning into unity. I challenge us to acknowledge that most of us function on auto pilot from our default settings unaware of what those settings actually are. I invite us all to courageously identify our default, core beliefs and put off any that are not of the way of Jesus. Again, we all have ownership in building and leaning into unity.
I propose that as a community we have been given a path forward in Romans 12:2 to submit to the process of renewing our minds. I have come to realize discipleship is mostly unlearning the conditioning of the patterns of this world and replacing them with the way of the kingdom and kingdom values. Can we just acknowledge that much of our embedded theology is actually cultural and social and not of the kingdom. Much of our practical theology is learned by catching spoken & unspoken social norms and are actually misunderstandings of Biblical principles. James 1:27 calls us to keep ourselves from being stained by the world. Family, we need some stain remover! If you are breathing, you’ve been stained folks.
I invite us to collectively bring false narratives to light in openness & honesty through dialogue and unpack together why these barriers exist. I invite us to flow & function together to reflect the way of the kingdom. Come with me on a journey to expose blind spots and empower the faith community to put off false narratives, which are true barriers to unity.
Jen Binford, Coach