I started writing this post whilst watching the election results coverage, reporting on a deeply divided country. One week on and the deep rifts, not only between political left and right, between Scotland and England, between Remain and Leave, between people of differing faiths are escalating. Following the devastating fire in Kensington recently, our nation’s attention is also inescapably drawn to the huge and ever growing gaps between the rich and the poor. Rather than defining ourselves by our common humanity we demonise the other, setting ourselves apart from each other. This is probably not a new development but it feels like the rifts are growing bigger as our nation gets rocked by one tragedy after the next.
In this context it is so incredibly important that we really are the ‘one holy catholic and apostolic church’ which the Nicene Creed talks about. There are few places I have truly witnessed such unity. There are rare moments when I encounter it in churches and it is much easier to see it at Christian festivals such as Spring Harvest. But I have only ever come across true unity which has inspired and humbled me in two situations: at DNA training blocks and in my Christian Union.
After finishing my DNA year last August I began studying English Literature at the University of Aberdeen. I was extremely nervous going into it, moving to a new and strange city only a week after I’d said a tearful goodbye to DNA. But my fears soon proved to be unnecessary, just as everybody had assured me. Though I missed my DNA family and all the wonderful people I had met at my placement church in Norwich, I soon began to meet new people. The Christian Union at my university played a huge part in this. As well as meeting new people there, I also found a community, the like of which I have never seen anywhere else. Our CU is a beautiful amalgamation of people from all sorts of countries and backgrounds and, crucially, so many different denominations! Nowhere else, not even in the church, have I seen such an exemplary unity around one common goal: sharing Jesus. It is inspiring to see the way our differences pale into insignificance when we see a campus of students waiting to be loved.
That is not to say that we all agree. In fact there are things I fundamentally disagree on with many of the members (and many a thought-provoking discussion has been had). However, none of these differences stand in the way of us working together because there is one thing which we can all agree on: our campus and our world desperately need Jesus and we are called to be his hands and feet.
Unity among the body of Christ seems to be something on many people’s mind’s at the moment. It keeps cropping up and it feels so important at this time when society is so deeply fragmented.
DNA and the experience of being part of the CU have inspired me with a passion for unity in the church. I am not yet sure what actions this might require but I am beginning to see the church as Jesus sees her, as she was meant to be and though she is still broken, she is radiant!