Unity Not Uniformity

Cass Curry, Central Groups Strategy Pastor, South Barrington | June 30, 2023

He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Matthew 12:48-50

There’s something people don’t prepare you for when you get married–not only are you marrying a person, but you’re marrying into a family. When my husband and I got married, we didn’t think about how marriage would birth a brand new family as well–the two of us where we would create a shared vision for our family that would inform our decisions. 

The other thing we weren’t ready for? That often, this vision would differ quite dramatically from our family’s.

While we can joke about the dissonance we’ve felt over the years, most acutely around the Thanksgiving table, there were many seasons of loneliness, guilt and isolation from our family as we felt this growing gap. How could a Christian family still have so much division when we all wanted to follow Jesus?

I’m sure you’ve felt some of this friction yourself–maybe in your family of origin or in the larger family of believers. Because just like in marriage two families become one, so in Christ, we are one new family, comprised of a diverse body of believers who oftentimes don’t see eye-to-eye.

What’s interesting about our passage today is that Jesus points to his disciples to redefine family. When we slow down and take a closer look, we’re reminded of how different Jesus’s disciples were. They, too, had political, socioeconomic, and theological divisions. 

Take Matthew and Simon, for example. Matthew was a tax collector–a through-and-through government man, while Simon was known as the Zealot, a radical revolutionary who was anti-establishment. When Jesus points to the vision for family in His Kingdom, that’s who he points to–polar opposites that in any other situation would have no business relating.

Yet Jesus is so compelling that He can heal seemingly unbridgeable gaps. In Jesus’ family, we can maintain our unique backgrounds and convictions yet still be one in Him. The goal is unity, not uniformity. I believe that holding this tension will continue to cause us friction on this side of heaven. But Jesus is calling us deeper into unity in His family, and it is by His power that we will see healing where there is hurt, love where there is bitterness, and unity where division. May God grant us the courage and the humility to walk in this calling towards greater unity.

Next Steps 

I wonder if there are relationships in your life that are in need of this radical healing. Maybe you’ve written someone off or considered certain relationships irredeemable, whether in your family or in the greater family of believers. While Jesus isn’t calling us to abandon healthy boundaries, Jesus does call us to a continued pursuit of unity through Him. How might He bring healing to division in your own life?

Going Deeper

Today marks the end of our fourth week in the book of Matthew. Just as we have been doing, let’s review the chapter once more. What stands out to you the most from the week? Consider memorizing the verse that speaks loudest to you. If you’re more on the creative side of things, consider how you can artistically convey what God taught you this week through a drawing or word art, perhaps. Then, take some time to pray and ask God to show you how this chapter of the Bible speaks to your current situation in life.