Wrestling With Faith and Doubt

An essay by Michael Gungor

In a symphony orchestra, many people come together to play vastly different roles. One might find, for instance, a first chair violinist that is featured throughout a piece, playing hundreds or thousands of notes. In the same piece, there may be a need for a percussionist who has hundreds of measures of rests only to play a few notes at precisely the right time.

All effective groups contain both diversity and unity. In fact, it is arguable that without diversity, there is no unity (only a much less effective uniformity). Diversity will mean there are probably completely different roles, focuses and objectives at play simultaneously, but unity means all of that diversity is aimed at a common endgame—a mission that makes it possible for people within a team or orchestra, or perhaps a faith, to have complete unity within tremendous diversity. Without unity, the group is doomed to failure. A house divided against itself cannot stand, after all.

Perhaps this is why, of all the prayers Jesus could have prayed in the garden before He was crucified, the book of John records that He prayed for us, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you ... in complete unity.”

Later, the apostle Paul wrote that in Christ, all of our divisions (religious, sexual, social and political) fade away (Galatians 3:28).

In modern Christendom, I’m afraid we too often let our friction veer into blatant and hateful division.

But now, 2,000 years later, the Christendom that claims to follow Jesus is divided into tens of thousands of bickering sects and denominations, more splintered and fragmented than ever before.

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I actually think a little healthy friction in a team is OK. It’s understandable for the violinist to get a little frustrated at the timpani player for playing louder than the dynamic marking on the page dictates. But friction and division are not the same thing. There is a big difference between “you’re not doing your job well enough!” and “I’m not playing on the same team with him anymore!”

In modern Christendom, I’m afraid we too often let our friction veer into blatant and hateful division. In the last few months, I personally have been called a heretic, a blasphemer, a twofold son of hell and a fool that is leading thousands to hell, in which I happen to have a special spot reserved for me.

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