At our recent district conference there was some really good and some really bad. I've been a bit negative lately, so here's some of the really good.
Alan Hirsch, our guest speaker and author of The Forgotten Ways, was talking about the different types of people that make up the Christian community, as well as the community at large, and was emphasizing the dynamic we need to have in order to have real community (rather than false peace or false unity). He said we need to:
recognize and enjoy our FIT (the grounds of our unity),
and our SPLIT (the diversity of persons within it),
and to CONTEND over disagreements (discuss, don't avoid!)
with the goal that we would TRANSCEND (find one mind, the mind of Christ).
I do think Hirsch may be overly optimistic about our ability to find one mind, even the mind of Christ, with a timing that conviences us (and our lofty corporate strategies and goals), but I do agree about it as a goal. What I would add is that if the original unity is understood to transcend us, as something grounded in Christ around whom we gather, then the unity at the end will aim at consensus, but will transcend both consensus and disagreement for the same reason it always did.
I do think that in communion in Christ we have something in which we should enjoy the freedom to disagree, rather than feel the pressure to maintain "peace" by avoiding conflict and open discussion. I actually think it betrays a failure to trust in Christ or believe in the communion of saints if this is our idea of peace and unity.
Regardless of my nuances on Hirsch's call (which I don't think are minor, but I'm trying to be positive here), I think his call to CONTEND rather than AVOID was a very good and much needed one. Hear here Alan Hirsch!