A few days ago I had a startling epiphany: I was playing right into the enemy’s hand, along with lots of other American Christians. In today’s polarized climate, it seems that many of us are taking sides and drawing battle-lines as if the Kingdom of God were at stake. I don’t mean to minimize the complexity and gravity of the current coronavirus crisis, racial & economic challenges, and political season we’re all dealing with; but the accusatory, divisive posture of both ends of the Church spectrum is tearing the fabric of Jesus within all of us!
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
“If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:15)
I realized this while I was talking with some friends the other night about the furor that has erupted here in Portland among God’s people about a recent concert that took place at the waterfront where thousands of Christians defied coronavirus-protocols for a night of worship. The inflammatory condemnation that erupted from many mask-wearing/social-distancing brothers and sisters was quick and blistering. The contempt that answered from brothers and sisters who supported the event fired back with equal devastation. This has continued since then, and lines in the ground are appearing. Indignance and hatred are flowing freely from this fallen world into the Body of Christ, and we need to stop it and find a way to stand together in the midst of our differences of opinion.
“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.” (Romans 14:1)
”All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble….Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:5-9)
I would expect division in the world – the kingdoms of men & women – but I’m heartbroken to see the vicious attacks between believers in Jesus Christ…accusing, condemning, and dismissing, and sometimes even going to law against each other….and becoming a laughing-stock to the watching world.
I realized that I needed stop trying to decide which side was right or wrong, and start focusing on what’s more important. How can each of us, with our myriad perspectives and convictions, value and learn from each other so that we can remain unified in our common purpose? It’s fine to have opinions, and to be strong in them….but if we break fellowship with each other due to secondary or tertiary issues, then we’re tearing-apart the Body of Christ right in front of the world’s eyes!
“…One brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers! The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?…On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 6:6-7, 9:12)
WE MUST REMAIN ONE IN CHRIST…
…Whether Democrat or Republican
…Whether Mask-Wearing or Non-Mask-Wearing
…Whether CNN or Fox
…Whether Black Lives Matter or Blue/All Lives Matter
…Even when we disagree about things that are IMPORTANT
…Because only one thing is ESSENTIAL
JESUS IS LORD
and he has one church
“[I ask] on behalf of those who will believe in Me through [my disciples’] message, that all of them may be ONE, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (Jesus, at the Last Supper – John 17:20-21)
Let’s put down our weapons, remember who the real enemy is, and show the world what ”LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, DO GOOD TO THOSE WHO HATE YOU” looks like….Starting with me and you.