Maintaining Church Unity
The MEGO (my eyes glaze over) effect can threaten any person who is dazed by facts, data, and options. This was dramatically illustrated by conditions surrounding the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife, Carolyn, and her sister, Lauren, in a plane crash off Martha’s Vineyard July 16, 1999.
Kennedy was piloting a Piper Saratoga II HP some 5,500 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. At dusk sea and sky merged into a confusion that resulted in a tragic MEGO scenario. With no discernible horizon or stars, the plane gradually drifted to the right. But Kennedy didn’t sense the change in direction. Flying blind, Kennedy lost his orientation. Within 15 seconds the small plane dropped nearly 500 feet, turned 35 degrees, and went into a graveyard spiral.
Such spirals are the insidious enemy of inexperienced pilots. The body’s senses are notoriously unsuited to detecting gradual turns in murky conditions. Sometimes these senses trick pilots into taking actions that make bad situations worse. At the point of disorientation pilots must rely on their instruments, not trust their senses.
In the Adventist Church the year before a General Conference session has historically been a time of intense activity. It’s when agendas are set, issues are fleshed out, challenges are addressed, and positions are worked out. Multiple issues facing Seventh-day Adventists have far-reaching implications.
These issues require tact and diplomacy to avoid the MEGO effect. With perplexing issues members and leaders can become dazed by facts, data, and possible positions. Without focus, prayer, and balance the MEGO effect threatens.
Here are five suggestions for avoiding the MEGO effect and for nurturing church unity. Think PEACE:
1. Prioritize love. Think and implement the practical aspects of loving and preferring one another. When tempted to resent someone who disagrees with us, we must discipline ourselves to love. Turn to these and other biblical passages for counsel: 1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 3:3-7; 2 Timothy 2:22; John 15:12; Romans 13:8; Hebrews 13:1; 1 John 4:7; 1 Peter 1:22; John 17.
2. Exalt unity. Beyond polemics, model unity. Christian writer Adolph E. Knoch wrote: “The highest evidence of a close communing with God is not a haughty holding of the truth and a separation from all who do not see it as we do. . . . Truth, too often, has been held in hate. Truth in love is the key to the approval of God and to the hearts of His saints. . . . [Truth] is often grieved, but does not retaliate. Above all it does not, like Peter, cut off the ears of those who oppose, for it is patiently waiting for the time when the ears will be healed, not hurt.”1
3. Agree to focus. Christians united are difficult to divide. Seek agreement and build bridges. If we spend more time defending and disagreeing, we have to be careful of activating the MEGO effect. If we plan on spending eternity together, we can’t allow peripheral issues to divide us on earth.
4. Cultivate peace. Respect principle and pursue peace. Psalm 133:1 proclaims the goodness and pleasantness of dwelling together in unity. Rather than being satisfied with the good that is unpleasant, or the pleasant that is not good, seek that peace that is both pleasant and good. Respect principle, build peace, and value relationships in the bonds of love. This will promote the peace of Christ and resist the strategies of Satan.
5. Evaluate attitudes. Let’s examine our attitudes and give others the benefit of the doubt. Notice Ellen White’s counsel: “Conversation has been protracted for hours between the parties concerned, and not only has their time been wasted, but the servants of God are held to listen to them, when the hearts of both parties are unsubdued by grace. If pride and selfishness were laid aside, five minutes would remove most difficulties.”2
To avoid the MEGO effect in the days ahead, pursue principle, seek peace, and practice love.
- Adapted from Adolph E. Knoch, “Presenting the Truth in Love,” Unsearchable Riches, vol. 56, no. 3.
- Ellen G. White, Early Writings (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1882), p. 119.