I’m a big fan of Francis Chan, and I have enjoyed every book of his that I have read. “Until Unity” is his latest, and it’s a doozie. It challenged me, and has me thinking hard about what I can do to build unity within my small area of the world.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book to all Christians. It’s one that I will be encouraging our church leadership to read through as well.
Here are a few quotations from the book that stood out to me, and a brief thought or question I have about some of them.
“We are made in the image of God! Most people know that it’s true but don’t realize that it’s sacred.”Page 36
“What does it mean to be made in the image of a God who is spirit? While being created in His image may involve something physical, it seems more likely that being His image bearers has more to do with things we cannot see.”Page 37
I think this is something we don’t spend nearly enough time considering. We are so consumed by what we see… Scripture points us to the understanding that God is much more interested in the things we cannot see.
“The heartbreak parents feel when their child wants to live independent of them is a fraction of what the Creator feels. Imagine how He feels knowing that some of His children wish He didn’t exist. They’re busy and tired of trying to squeeze in a token visit as their duty. Their desire to ignore Him is so strong that they convince themselves He’s not real.”Page 41
“In God’s list of things He hates (Prov. 6: 16–19), He places greatest emphasis on “one who sows discord among brothers.” He calls it an “abomination”! That should stop you dead in your tracks. You should be examining your own life right now to see if you are guilty of something that Almighty God hates so much. If you can casually read on to the next paragraph, you have a serious problem.”Page 42
I have been guilty of this, and Chan is absolutely correct. We must confess and root out this sin of sewing discord (and stop couching it in the “bless their heart” qualifier that apparently is supposed to make it okay to then run someone down).
“Sometimes the secret conversations are the most dangerous. They seed deeper-rooted division in a person, who then passes on the slander. That’s unholy discipleship. God hates it.”Page 43
“Jesus suffered and died to unite us with the Father and with each other. To disregard unity is to disparage the cross.”Page 44
“Most Christians know that the Holy Spirit is a Person, but they still tend to treat Him like an impersonal force.”Page 46
“Think about the level of pride and ignorance required for a human being to think he could speak as an expert on the Holy Spirit.”Page 46
Amen! Amen! Amen!
“The things that bother us are not the things that bother God. Meanwhile, He is disturbed by things to which we seem indifferent.”Page 52
Why are we so slow/resistant/opposed to getting on the same page that God is on? One word – “ego.”
“Being a Christian is not about making a claim about which religion you subscribe to. Being a Christian means that Christ has entered you, filled you with His love, and is pouring His life through you to the people around you. If you have experienced the life-changing love of Jesus, you will be overflowing with love for God and others. It’s that simple. If you are prone to division and disunity, if you’re having a hard time loving your brothers and sisters, then you have to ask the question: Has His Spirit really entered me?”Page 60
“As long as we believe there is such a thing as lukewarm Christians, we will never have unity. I’ll say it again: lukewarm people are not Christian! This isn’t me saying this. Read Revelation 3.”Page 64
“Whenever you have people who refuse to surrender trying to become perfectly one with those who gladly give their whole lives to Christ, you will have complete chaos. The unsurrendered will always be at odds with the Christ followers, lobbying for their sins to be overlooked and fighting for their own desires in ungodly ways.”Page 64
Our churches are filled with unsurrendered people. This is a huge problem.
“Jesus did not give any room for a Christian who accepts Him as Savior but is still deciding whether or not He can be Lord.”Page 71
“There is a beautiful, God-honoring unity that can and must take place between weaker and stronger, newer and older believers.”Page 72
“We are tired of listening to all the different teachers explaining why we have to follow them away from the pack. We want to be one again. The good news is that Jesus wants it even more than we do.”Page 74
“If the Scriptures so clearly describe the coming judgment, how can so many who claim to be Christian ignore these passages?”Page 78
“Wouldn’t it make sense that Satan would want us to doubt that judgment was coming? It is the most terrifying or glorious moment in every human’s existence, yet we give it little thought.”Page 78
“Though most of the world seems to now doubt God’s wrath and destruction, the Bible says there is a way to prove His judgment is coming. If Christians would fearlessly share the gospel “in one spirit, with one mind, striving side by side,” it would be a “clear sign to them of their destruction.” So if I’m the Enemy and my goal is to keep people doubting God’s judgment until it’s too late, it’s obvious what I would do: Divide the church. Take away the power. Eventually, even the committed will become discouraged.”Page 79
That last sentence is brutal: “Eventually, even the committed will become discouraged.” May God help us, and give us a renewed courage!
“Like a marriage that has no purpose, many churches have forgotten the point of their existence. They can quickly focus on the complaints of their people rather than the cries of the lost. We get more emotional over Christians leaving to go to a different church than we do about people dying and going to Hell. Something is horribly wrong when we grieve more deeply over people rejecting us than those who reject their Messiah.”Page 81
“There is no danger greater than an eternity apart from God. We need God to revive our concern for the destiny of unbelievers. It’s when we care about them enough that we will put aside our differences to reach them together.”Page 82
“My fear is that, perhaps without even realizing it, we’ve fallen into the very dangerous habit of neglecting God’s commands in favor of our logic.”Page 85
The lure and seduction of my own logic and thinking is so strong. So powerful. It makes it so easy to put my understanding above God’s.
“In the words of John Snyder, “Innovation, tradition, sincerity, sacrifice, good intentions—not one or all can substitute for obedience to God regarding how He desires to be worshipped.””Page 86
“The lesson of this story [Saul, Israel, and the Amalekites found in 1 Samuel 15] is that no matter how good or logical it seems, it is never appropriate to modify God’s commands in light of human reasoning. At the root of that kind of behavior is pride, thinking that somehow in our wisdom we have considered something God neglected to notice. God treats this presumption as idolatry. This prideful, idolatrous spirit is running rampant in the church today, disguised like Saul’s with good intentions and pragmatism. God made it clear that striving together in unity would work, but we reason our way into new methods. I don’t pretend to understand exactly why unity would cause unbelievers to suddenly believe in their coming judgment and our salvation. But my responsibility is not to understand why; my responsibility is to be obedient. Saul may not have understood why it was important for all the livestock of the Amalekites to be destroyed, but it should have been enough for Him that God had commanded it. That is what it means to accept Jesus as Lord and King.”Page 86
When we try to second guess God, we are putting our wisdom above His.
“God often asks people to pursue strategies that don’t make the most logical sense. If they did make sense to us, we wouldn’t need faith. And without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11: 6) God’s ways are not our ways. He has not asked us to strategize; He has asked us to obey. It seems simple, so why haven’t we obeyed? I can’t speak for you, but I know what usually keeps me from staying committed to His plan: disbelief.”Page 88
“In the church, we divide easily because we love shallowly.”Page 143
This is such truth. If we loved deeply, we would fight for unity and reject division even at the cost of great personal pain.
“We have to be extremely careful not to take the place of the Holy Spirit in the name of discernment or wisdom. You can be sure that God will not take lightly the defamation of one of His children. I have seven children now.”Page 156
We should be so afraid of saying, “God told me to…” or “The Spirit lead me to…” because it is so incredibly easy to abuse. It is so subjective, and no one can dare challenge what we say next. Then it becomes a slippery slope to keep siding down whenever we feel strongly about something. We would be much better off defaulting to saying, “Scripture says to…” so that other brothers and sisters can read it and verify it and plainly see it.
“Too often, we have made doctrine the crux of our evaluations of other believers over and above the presence of the Holy Spirit. I know I have. If you are willing to let the presence of the Spirit take precedence over exact theological alignment in secondary issues, I believe you will find a much more diverse, beautiful family of believers because it is the family that God has made, not the one you have chosen.”Page 156
If reading that has you upset and angry and ready to say how wrong it is, you need to go read it fully in context in the book, then call me up and invite me to lunch to discuss it with you (your treat of course!).
“I would just encourage you to consider the possibility that though your position is currently most popular, it might not be most biblical. A general practice in my life is that whenever my methodology differs from that of Christ, I assume that His method is better.”Page 167
“Consider the possibility…” Why are so many of us so unwilling to even entertain the possibility?
“The Lord in His sovereignty chose for us to live in this time, so we must trust that He will give us grace to navigate through this with strength and love.”Page 169
This is so encouraging (and it makes me think of the scene in the Lord of the Rings when Gandalf encourages Frodo about his part in the saga of the Ring).
“I speak to many pastors who are hanging on by a thread or have already given up. It’s like they are getting jabbed left and right by people leaving the faith, sin increasing in their cities, divorces, depression, addictions, their own temptations and family struggles, financial hardships, being compared to better leaders and teachers, and the like. But then comes the knockout punch: the people who were supposed to be in their corner take a swing.”Page 170
I am NOT looking for sympathy by saying this, but what Chan says here is real. I have experienced it. Many of the pastors and ministers I know have experienced it. Love your pastors. Minister to your ministers. They need it far more than you will ever know, and they will never tell you how badly they need it until it is too late.
“We have to figure out how to increase social action while growing in unity. Once we sacrifice one for the other, we lose our effectiveness and the right to be heard.”Page 180
It is definitely a “Both… and…” issue! I don’t understand why so many Christians frame this as an “Either… or…” issue!
“It will always be easier to seek out the people whose interests and affiliations most closely resemble your own—people whose life experiences resonate with yours and inform your choices and passions in similar ways. It will always be easier to write off those with whom your personality or opinions clash. But there is something so beautiful and powerful about a group of incredibly diverse people uniting under a common banner. It shows the world that our common obsession with the worth of our King is more powerful than any social, political, culture, or economic divide. It shows them a picture of Heaven. Don’t let your pride get in the way of that picture.”Page 186
“Sometimes it’s necessary to run ahead in order to show people a glimpse of what is possible. As they see an example of unity and observe the blessings that God pours out on us, it may be the very thing that convinces them to reunite.”Page 189
“One of the mistakes I see time and time again in the pursuit of unity (among other pursuits) is that everyone wants to jump to the macro-scale. I am sure that many of these people have good intentions. They want to get the message to as many people as possible; they want to see revival. But all too often, the message to the masses is robbed of its power because it’s not accompanied by a life that reflects its power. So if you feel passionate about seeing greater unity in the church, I would urge you to start small. Get your life in order before making speeches. Start with just you and God. Spend time marveling at the mystery of oneness with God and repenting of pride and divisiveness. Learn what it means to abide in the Father, because apart from Him you will not bear fruit (John 15: 4–5). Ask Him to help you see the people around you through His eyes.”Page 191
Seek smallness. That sounds like such a thing that Jesus would say. Wait…
“God didn’t call us to neutrality. He wants every word to be spoken in love.”Page 194
“It’s rare to meet people who have the ambition to be hated and mistreated like Christ or the prophets. It’s rare to find someone whose ambition is to suffer and die like the apostles. I want to see repentance and revival as much as anyone. I just want to make sure I’m following God and not selfish ambition.”Page 196
“Churches and groups with nearly identical statements of faith find it impossible to validate what God is doing among a neighboring church or group.”Page 199
Our jealousy, envy, pride, and ego have caused such hinderance to the movement of God’s Church through His people. May I/we repent and seek a different way. A better way.
“It’s usually the people who aren’t thinking about the masses who actually reach the masses. They are just busy loving the people God places before them. As love prompts unusual acts of sacrifice, their examples become remembered by the masses. Most of the voices we hear today will be silenced at death because they had no loving actions to be remembered.”Page 203
“Unity is difficult when all we do is talk. The early church produced the book of Acts; the modern church produced a book of Talks. Their leaders died living out the gospel; we make a living by talking about it. The more we bear fruit, the easier unity will be.”Page 205
“The older I get, the less I think about what others have said about me and the more I think about what Jesus will say to me.”Page 207