Perhaps my favorite moment in sport’s history was the United States’ victory over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympic hockey tournament. The Soviets has been unbeatable for two decades. Part of their success stemmed from their ability to skirt the rules baring professionals from play in the Olympics. The Soviet team were all full time professionals, but thanks to the communist system they were passed off as being in the army or working for a company (that simply permanently loaned them to a team). Not only could U.S. amateurs not beat them, even NHL all-star teams fell to the Soviets. Given the long odds, many were shocked when U.S. coach Herb Brooks predicted his team of college kids could defeat these seasoned “pros.” When reminded that pro all-star teams has lost, Brooks quipped that all-star teams fail because stars are too focused on themselves and fighting for their personal gain. For this reason, he did not even select the best amateur players, but rather the ones he thought could best work together to achieve the goal.
I see a parallel here with God’s family, the church. God has built us, his family, to be successful. He has gifted us with the tools needed to reach the nations, train disciples, and improve the world. He has given us Scripture as a guide, and the Holy Spirit to make it come alive. Most importantly, He suffered and died to save us forever. Yet, with all those amazing advantages and resources, the Church struggles. The percent of our country that are professing Christians is at an all-time low, as is worship attendance (even pre-COVID). One recent study found that 80% of churches are experiencing decline. All of these amazing resources are at our disposal, yet the Church struggles.
I would argue that a MAJOR reason the church struggles is that, like all-star teams, we spend too much time fighting among ourselves. I can hardly log onto social media without seeing a post arguing against some aspect of the church (often worship and politics). We fight over seemingly everything: theology, baptism, music, furniture, leadership styles, the list could go on for pages. Instead of fully harnessing the amazing resources God has given us, we spend a disproportionate percentage fighting ourselves. This is not a new problem. The Apostle Paul addressed this in his letter to a church in Corinth:
Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. 1 Corinthians 1:10-12
Here’s the key phrase to etch into our minds: that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. Friends, we will NEVER agree on everything. But, we should ALWAYS agree that Jesus is Lord and that the whole world needs to hear that news. Let’s stop wasting all God has given us fighting against one another, and begin working together for God’s glory on Earth and in Heaven.