Peace feels like a foreign concept in this world. Every day there is news of some form of conflict, whether that be global, national, regional, or personal. An innocent life has been taken. A war is brewing somewhere overseas. Division is tearing communities and countries apart.
It is one thing, as a Christian, to look at the world and see the division and strife that comes from living in a sinful world. It is somehow even more heartbreaking to look at the church and see the same.
Jesus prayed “May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you.” (John 17:21) Amongst the anguish of Gethsemane and the growing shadow of the cross, Jesus prayed for us, his church, to be united. Sadly, the Bride of Christ has been broken and fragmented for centuries, and we have done little to remedy this.
Catholics and Protestants waged war throughout the sixteenth century. In the New World, Puritans showed no tolerance for differing viewpoints, including their Christian brothers. Ireland was nearly tore itself apart with sectarian violence in the twentieth century.
Today, the Body of Christ is separated by denominations that rarely interact. We segregate ourselves based on our views of predestination, women in ministry, or baptism. But that’s not enough for some of us. We continue to draw more lines with our musical preferences and whether we prefer Sunday school or life groups.
Unfortunately, these disagreements are not kept within the walls of church buildings. They are broadcasted on social media and across airways. Laymen and leaders alike have shared unhelpful, passive-aggressive, and rude comments about their fellow Christians in every corner of the public square. Sometimes the topic in question is serious. Other times, trivial. Regardless, the church does itself and its Savior a disservice by acting in this manner.
America and the world are as divided and hostile as ever. We are living in an age of fear and uncertainty. Shouldn’t the church be pointing to the certainty of Christ in these situations, not joining in and adding to the chaos?
Following Jesus is NOT about being right. Following Jesus is not about having your views validated. Following Jesus is NOT about publicly calling out fellow believers because they worded something poorly or their opinion doesn’t match yours exactly.
Following Jesus is about denying yourself, including your “right” to be right. Following Jesus is about loving others well, not by publicly humiliating or demonizing them, but by loving them and privately correcting them.
We are not enemies. We are brothers and sisters. We are one body. It’s time for us to start acting like it.
The church is varied in its theological and political views. This won’t change. But we should be able to put aside lesser issues to follow the most important commandments. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart… and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37,39)
Jesus said that they would know us by our love. Imagine what would happen if we were to deny ourselves in putting aside our minor differences to love one another.
It’s no easy task, but the Spirit of God routinely accomplishes the impossible. Let the King of Peace bring that same peace the angels proclaimed two thousand years ago. In our churches. In our nations. In our homes. In our worlds. And in ourselves.
Oh come Desire of nations bind
In one the hearts of all mankind
Bid now our sad divisions cease
And be Thyself our King of Peace