Division in our country and community has become the norm. From political parties to the vote on a sales tax to the firing of a Fire Chief, it seems as though our community is more divided than it ever has been. But how did we get here? What is the root cause of division?
I blame us. Those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus. It’s our fault our community is divided, because we are divided. When the Church is divided then there is no way we should expect our community to be united. When we are judgmental towards others, why should we expect anyone else to act differently.
We can’t agree on what day of the week is the “right day” to worship.
We can’t agree on how or when to take communion, let alone what bread, cracker, wafer, juice, or wine to use.
We can’t agree on who should or shouldn’t be ordained as pastors let alone whether or not women can lead or teach.
We can’t agree on what you should or shouldn’t wear to church.
We can’t agree on what time we should meet, what songs we should sing, or whether we should even sing or use instruments.
We can’t agree on which translation of the Bible to use.
We can’t agree on what you can and cannot eat or drink.
We can’t agree on which denomination is “right.” Some think that others are going to hell because they act or believe one thing or another that we don’t agree with.
While all of these may seem important, there is a better way. We have to understand that the path toward unity and healing begins with those of us who claim to be Christians…Followers of Jesus, because Christ calls us to unity, not uniformity.
So what do we do? Where do we start? We start with Jesus. We start with love. We start with forgiveness. We start with compassion. All too often it doesn’t “feel” like love is enough to bring us together, but according to Jesus, it is. Jesus said, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35 (NLT)
In order for this community, and subsequently this country, to begin to heal, you have to ask the question; “What does love require of me?” Love requires us to be patient with one another, not be jealous of each other, not boast when we “win.” Love is kind and gentle and puts the needs of others ahead of our own. It doesn’t hold a grudge and isn’t quick tempered and rejoices when decisions are made that benefit the whole, not a political agenda. Love is unifying.
If those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus cannot love first, love second, and love last, then our community will remain divided. It is up to us to lead the way in healing our community.
So, as we approach this Christmas season, I want to challenge you to follow the words of Peter to “Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech.” 1 Peter 2:1a (NLT) To speak well of one another and rather than living by the Golden Rule, of treating others the way you want to be treated…try living by the “Platinum Rule”…Treat others the way God, through Jesus, has treated us. Quick to forgive, slow to anger, to love first, love second, and love last. Please know that you are loved.