have been thinking about unity for a while now. At the time of the US elections, I guess the topic of unity started to become more pronounced in my mind. Reading through all the posts on Facebook about the elections was difficult and heavy. I felt great sorrow over the division among Christians. The words of Richard J. Mouw reflects what many Christians both inside and outside America were thinking:
“How do we talk together now about the deeper issues without mutual accusations? How do we love each other in continuing to work together in the service of the only true and righteous King?”
It seemed to have gotten to a point where people on both sides were not listening to each other. Everyone was focused on “joining a camp” because the divisions were (and still are) strong. The politics in America have brought many things to light, including the division in the Church.
The disagreements I saw in posts seemed to stem from different outlooks on critical topics such as abortion, racism, purity, etc. What struck me was that God was not at the center of almost all the posts. I asked myself – “Where’s God’s voice in all of this?” Surely both sides had ample verses from the Bible to support their arguments, but felt justified in ignoring the biases on both sides. The comments seemed more like a war of opinions than a sensible discussion on God’s will and His work on the earth. I read posts in which strong men of God accused each other of racism or bias and it was very sad. I wondered if anyone ever thought that perhaps it is not about taking sides.
We cannot deny that both sides have legitimate concerns and we don’t need to reach a conclusion as to which is more important –they are both equally important. We have to be willing to accept that, and scripture will prove that to us if we read it fully without being selective. How can you compare physical abuse of a child due to racism with the pain an unborn child faces when he is murdered in his mother’s womb? Why would you compare the two? God would be grieved over both and He would protect both the unborn child and the child who is abused–He doesn’t need our opinion as to which is more evil and He certainly doesn’t need to choose one over the other. Why then do we argue in this way? Isn’t God able to protect the innocent? Why is it so hard for us to believe that God can eradicate evil without being constrained? We say that if Hillary had won, there would be no racism. Or since Trump has won, there won’t be a greater spread of lawlessness. I couldn’t help but wonder, can God not deal with the racism now or was Hillary going to do it? Couldn’t God have prevented lawlessness from spreading under Hillary, or is Trump the one who will ensure that laws are created and/or upheld? We limit God by making such statements and conclusions, as if we rely on candidates to do any and everything. We fail to recognize that it’s not OK to depend on man and forget God (Jeremiah 17:5).
I felt very sad seeing the division because I know that God doesn’t desire for us to be divided – that’s why Jesus prayed for unity before His crucifixion. We should grieve because the pain and wickedness that is spreading is great – not just in America, but all over the world. But in grieving, we should not stop trusting God and believing in Him. Is it only in good times that that we talk about “All things for Your glory Lord”? Why can’t we see hope in all situations? Why lose confidence in God because of men? God hears the afflicted and defends them. Why forget that we are called to love each other as Jesus loved us? When we love someone, we listen to them and we weigh their words in light of scripture. We don’t separate ourselves from that person and form a group with those who think like us and exclude our brother or sister who thinks differently. If what a believer says is in line with scripture, then on what basis do we choose to close our ears and create segregation?
I don’t think that these disagreements didn’t exist earlier, but I do believe that the elections in America brought many deep issues to light. Many of us have forgotten who God is in the midst of the tensions, speculations, and fears in our chaotic world today. We have let the world tell us what is right and wrong instead of seeking the truth in God’s word. We have let unbelief in without even realizing it. When we are at peace and are in a comfortable place, we tend to quote scripture and encourage each other. And when things get difficult and hard, we forget the very scriptures we quoted. I love the words from the song “I’ve Got Something to Say” by Starfield –the song expresses feelings many of us struggle with when we have a hard time seeing God in our circumstances. The line I’ve prayed many times in my difficult moments is “But help me not forget in darkness, the things that I believed in light” – these words remind me of how many of us are acting today when we are faced with some very harsh situations – we have forgotten our faith in God’s sovereignty, we have forgotten how we are taught to love one another and honor one another above ourselves, we have forgotten that we trust in God when we are afraid. In this dark place, we no longer remember the things we believed and proclaimed in the light.
It is through our faith that we can testify to the sovereignty of God. This is a time for believing and fighting in faith – faith in God and belief in the bond of unity with which we are bound to each other – to know that we are loved by God and by each other. Now is the time for us to love each other as we were always meant to – not superficially, but from our hearts, without discrimination. It takes love to listen to and pray for our brothers and sisters and to be united in mind and spirit. Only then can we reach out to those who are hurting and speak the truth to them in love. Without loving God will all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we will not be able to love others or respond as He wants us to. Division, racism, injustice, lawlessness, apathy are all real, and that’s why having love for each other is so important.
It is my prayer that God will exalt His Name and the Truth above our understanding of situations so that we may fight to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3) and are able to trust in the LORD with all our heart instead of leaning on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). May we be doers of the word, not just hearers (James 1:22), and may we understand that it is love that binds everything together in perfect unity (Colossians 3:14).