My morning Bible readings led me to Joshua 18:5 awhile back. As I looked at this verse, could not help by notice the wording that seemed to play the northern tribes against the southern of Israel against each other.
It is possible that this is an awareness of disunity in a divided monarchy or an unspoken segregation of the geo-political situation in early tribal Israel. Either way, there is a truth buried in this passage.
The call to unity is one we have heard many times and have almost been hearing it as white noise. It is, no matter how tempted we are to ignore it, a crucial element in Godly living. Joshua, among other books, knows that for the body of believers it is important to be united for survival and worship. Without this, the Church becomes nothing more than warring factions vying for control.
Catholic vs. Protestant
Arminian vs. Calvinist
Egalitarian vs. Complementarian
Are you getting the idea? It’s that we should find something to unite under.
Jesus’ prayer for the Church in John 17 is crucial for understand this idea of Unity. In it he prays to the Father to protect them for the sake of unity. This is immensely important. He goes on later in the prayer to discuss the Trinitarian unity as Christ being in the Father and vice-versa. He then says that he wants the believers to be reflective of that reality by being in the trinity. Why does he do this? So that love will abound. As the old song says, “they will know we are Christians by our love.”
Our common identity as Christians is the Trinity. But not just in a simple cognitive sense. It is also for the purpose of love being clear to the world. Although Scripture, denominational affiliation, theology, etc. are good things to discuss and find conviction in, our primary identity is in God. Let’s make that common ground for unity.
What is your Christian group’s identity? Is it the Bible? Is it the denomination that you are in? Is it your theology? Or is it Christ?