Last summer my wife and I attended the Word of Life Camp Meeting in Red Deer. In the first session of the conference, speaker and author John Bevere made a statement that has bugged me ever since. He said: "It’s more important to be one than it is to be right."
It's an irritating burr in my spirit because I highly value being right. This is especially true in my role as a pastor. I value correct doctrine. I pride myself in doing church the right way and that I am interpreting the Bible accurately and living my life so as to please God. But do I really know what it means to please God? I thought I knew, until John made this audacious statement. I began to scour the scripture to invalidate his claim. All I found was confirmation that he was actually right.
Look at Jesus' prayer in John 17:20-23. He was praying for His disciples just before He was about to release them into their ministries.
"I'm praying not only for them but also for those who will believe in me because of them and their witness about me. The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they'll be as unified and together as we are—I in them and you in me. Then they'll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you've sent me and loved them in the same way you've loved me."
The goal, as Jesus stated it, was not to keep them theologically correct. Jesus seemed more concerned that they be in unity than remain precise in their doctrine. Wow! It caused me to think about how my need to be right has actually created separation from others. I’ve removed myself from pastors and churches and denominations and even friends because I thought it was more important to be right. I used the excuse that even Jesus was rejected because He was right. But desiring rightness over oneness actually creates a culture that repels the very ones He commanded us to reach. He even suggested that our oneness would increase our ability to reach them.
I'm not saying accurate doctrine and biblical theology are not important. But I am saying they are not as important as our unity. What if churches could put aside their doctrinal differences for a moment and instead of viewing each other as competition, actually join together in unity to reach their communities for Christ? What if we sought unity based on what we can agree on instead of focusing on what we disagree on? Most agree that Jesus is God, that He lived, He died on a cross for our sin, He rose again from the dead, and that He will return. What if that became the foundation for our unity and we left the rest up to interpretation? What would change?
Has your desire to be right affected any of your relationships?