June 19, 2013
Oct 09 - Adela Just
In another time, men would gather, some of them daily, at a central place in town - perhaps the local general store or tavern or cafe. They would discuss the issues and politics of their day. They would swap stories, share opinions, debate, even argue, but when all was said and done, they walked away and shook hands, their friendships and respect for each other still in tact.
Today, we are far removed from this scene. In June of this year, a headline in the LA Times read, “America’s political divide is turning into a chasm.” The writer went on to compare the current atmosphere of the country to that of the Civil War period, where ideologies, passions and convictions so sharply divided the nation. He concludes:
We will have an election in November, but no matter who wins, nearly half the electorate will feel the country has been stolen from them. Regional differences are tolerable and charming, but political differences can run so deep that the people on the other side begin to look less like countrymen than like enemies. (1)
Unfortunately, the body of Christ has not been exempt from this division. If anything, we have been a major source and participant in it. In a 2011 article published in Relevant magazine, politics was cited as one of the top 6 things that causes division among Christians. (2)
People are quick to quote Jesus’ statement that He did not come to bring peace but a sword (Matt. 10:34). We know He told us to expect the world to reject us, just as it rejected Him. The bottom line is, it is far easier to find excuses for maintaining division than it is to fight for unity.
The division Jesus told us to expect has to do with the clashing of kingdoms, when the kingdom of God collides with the kingdom of darkness, when righteousness collides with sin. But among His disciples, His body, Jesus’ prayer was for them to be one, even as He and His Father were one (John 17:11). More specifically, He prayed for God to protect His disciples so that they could be one. Jesus understood that unity is not something that comes naturally to human nature; it is something we have to fight for and fiercely guard, something that can only be maintained through the covering of the Father.
It breaks the Father’s heart that “one of the dominant attributes of Christianity today is that its adherents can’t seem to agree on much; or at least, we fight about things more loudly and publicly than we agree about things” (2). It is a painful realization to know this is how the world sees the church. While we cannot and should not water down truth or compromise the standards the Word of God clearly sets forth, an outpouring of love and honor for people can bridge the chasm which differences of opinion and conviction cannot.
It is the kindness of God that leads people to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Perhaps we could greatly increase our influence and effectiveness at reaching the lost if they saw a body of believers that treats each other with kindness, honor, respect and love.
The days until the election are rapidly ticking away. Emotions are escalating and will continue to do so. This is understandable; the stakes are high, and the differences in ideology and vision are stark. And no matter the outcome of the election, as the LA Times article cited above pointed out, half of the nation is not going to be happy with the outcome. What if the body of Christ led the way, not in division, angry words and irreconcilable differences, but in forgiveness, love and honor? We will always boldly stand opposed to sin and unrighteousness, but perhaps we could more clearly communicate why, more effectively penetrate the walls around people’s hearts and lead them to salvation if we demonstrated supernatural grace.
Our most powerful weapon will always be the love of the Father. Let’s wield it well in this turbulent hour.
1. Ask the Lord to reveal places where you have allowed division instead of fighting for unity.
2. Pray for the body of Christ to focus and partner together on things that unite us.
3. Pray for the Holy Spirit to teach us new ways to love others.
4. Pray for the church to be more effective at speaking the truth in love.
1. Horsey, David. “America’s political divide is turning into a chasm.” Los Angeles Times. 5 June 2012. http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-political-divide-20120605,0,5155479.story
2. McCracken, Brett. “The 6 Things that Divide Christians.” Relevant. 29 August 2011. http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/features/26607-the-6-things-that-divide-christians