I just cannot believe the division that has been growing over this past year. It’s like a cancer in families and among lifelong friends. It’s in churches and workplaces and schools. And it all has to do with a virus and how we each, individually, choose to respond to this virus.
People have extremely strong opinions on both sides of this and it has led to a divide I honestly never thought I’d see. Satan is having a heyday. There are threats, name-calling, thoughtless judgments, outright lies, and unkind and downright mean spirits. It’s been a sad and disheartening thing to watch. Even tragic.
Now we can expect this kind of thing among unbelievers. They are not compelled to live a life obedient to Christ’s commands and they certainly aren’t living by God’s Word. But watching this division happen among Christ’s own has been disturbing and heart-breaking.
No matter which side you are on of the great debate, I am guessing that– if you are a believer– you truly want what is best for your fellow man. This non-biblical issue can have two people who dearly love the Lord and passionately love people coming up with completely opposite opinions. They BOTH love God and love people and, yet, they don’t agree.
The question is this: Shouldn’t they still be able to love each other?
As we watch the world fight and accuse and ridicule, we Christians should take no part. If we can’t love each other despite our differences then we look just like the world.
This doesn’t mean we can’t kindly express opinions and have discussions. What it does mean is that we love each other as Christian family, despite our differences.
I know that there is great passion about this on both sides of the issue. I get it. But to let it ruin relationships and destroy families is giving Satan a BIG win. As much as it depends on us, we can’t allow that to happen.
I have, on several occasions, publicly drawn attention to the side of this issue that I believe is often unheard. I want to, right now, publicly say that if you don’t agree with me, I still love you as my sibling in Christ. You don’t have to agree with me on this particular issue to be my friend. I hope you feel the same if you don’t agree with me.
We are Christian brothers and sisters. We can’t let this divide us into two different teams. We must be unified as we face whatever lies ahead. We can’t allow this to weaken us.
This needing to agree with each other about certain subjects in order to be friends has been gaining momentum in the culture at large for a long time now. Probably close to twenty years. But until this past year, I had no idea how it had so soundly infiltrated the church. How believers had been so taken in by it, too.
This tendency has made leading a church or Christian school a real difficulty for its leaders. Because, let’s be honest, you can never make everybody happy and both sides can get downright mean if they don’t think you made the right decision. (Pray for your leaders!)
And then there is the fact that we all mess up sometimes. We (including me!) don’t always respond right in the heat of the moment. Sometimes we get upset and say things we shouldn’t have. Sometimes we walk away angry. This is when we must ask for and offer forgiveness and grace to one another.
These things can be hard. Some of you find yourselves in passionate disagreements with co-workers, family members, and church family. It feels impossible. And it may be. If the other person isn’t willing to change then there isn’t much you can do.
But I am reminded that, while we can’t change others, we can change ourselves.
One of my favorite verses is Romans 12:18–
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
This tells us it won’t always be possible but that we do our best to do what we can.
As we are overwhelmed by ugly debates and angry conversations that swirl around us, may we Christians not add to the noise, but instead offer a safe and loving place for intelligent and kind discussion about these things. A place where we stay friends no matter what our opinion is. And a place where we are bonded as family through our mutual faith in Christ Jesus alone for our salvation.
And in the midst of this, may we not lose site of our real purpose! We are here on this earth to know God and to make Him known. We want to lead people to Jesus. This is rather hard to do if we are destroying our testimonies through unkind arguments, unwise social media posts, and giving people the silent treatment.
We have an incredible opportunity right now to show that we are not part of this world. That Jesus has changed our lives and has given us a peace and a joy that no worldly pleasure could ever be worth. Let’s remember our focus. Let’s be diligent to discern over the biblical issues that are trying to twist and distort the Gospel. Let’s not get caught up in temporal, non-biblical issues but instead set our minds on things above.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.