Last time I looked at this subject here in the ol' northern 'burbs, I left off with a promise to talk about my view on the "valid" reasons for disunity. Intriguing concept, that, as up until then I'd been promoting the (very biblical) notion that unity is of utmost importance in a church.
So...how do I reconcile the idea that unity is paramount, but disunity may be permissible? Basically, I expand the definition of "disunity." Disruptions, divisiveness, and unloving behavior have no place in the church. And when disunity exists, it must be repented of and relational restoration must be restored.
But what if it's not? What if the divisive person is unrepentant? What if he or she persists in sowing the seeds of discord?
Then "disunity" must happen. The divisive person has to be, for the good of the church and of the divisive person, be removed from the church. The divider must be, ironically, divided from the body.
In Matthew 8:17 Jesus tell us to treat the unrepentant "as you would a pagan or a tax collector." Paul instructs in Titus 3 that we should "warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned." Harsh.
But necessary. If unity is so vital (and it is), then we must be willing to break off the divisive.
We do so, of course, with eye toward our highest value: love. The separation of the sinner (in all cases) is done with the hope they will repent and be restored to relationship. As Mark Driscoll writes in his excellent book Vintage Church, "There is a sense in which you never really let the unrepentant sinner go. Though you don't associate with him, you keep calling him back. He is put out for the purity of the church but is always admonished to come back." Indeed. We separate, but pray, love and admonish in order that one day redemption of unity is attained, and that God is glorified by making whole what was divided.
Next up, freedom, then selflessness. After that, the series moves from the values guiding our discussion into the actual issues surrounding the "megachurch" question itself - the "how" questions.