Thomas Jefferson said “peace is that glorious moment in time when everyone stops and reloads”. This is so true today when there are so many controversies and agendas and divisions in our society. No peace and no unity. We can’t go on Facebook or Twitter or watch the news without witnessing the fights between pro-life and pro-choice, Democrats and Republicans, or right versus left. Everyone seems to voice their opinion and battles rage between believers, friends, and family over these opposing agendas and views.
In the book, Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis points out the determination of Satan to divide believers. Screwtape writes to Wormwood and tells him he should make the patient (the believer) interested in movements like Christians & war, Christians & animal abuse. This focus on agendas is a way to corrupt positive influence in Christian teachings and in people’s lives and make Christians less Christian. Today, these issues to divide would be endless. When I was at a Christian event last year, a man approached me and asked me if our organization believed in same-sex marriage as a sin. My answer at the time was no, because the Bible says marriage should be between a man and a woman. But you know how you always think of something better to say after the fact? What I should’ve said is, “we believe that Jesus was born as our savior, died on the cross for our sins, was resurrected and sits at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. We are ALL sinners so standing here and arguing with you over which sin is greater is a waste of time.” This is a statement of unity for all Christians. This is what creates our purpose and commonality. We don’t need to stand on the streets and argue what opinion we believe in and get worked up over how we disagree. If we all agreed on everything in the world then there would be no change or distinction between us. We just have to believe in one thing and unite for that reason. Jesus wants us to be united in our faith and love for him, not standing against each other and pointing fingers.
Paul wrote to Timothy and mentioned the false teachers and those men who devoted themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These false teachers promoted controversies rather than God’s work – which is by faith. Jesus commanded us to love but believers have wandered away from their faith and turned to meaningless talk. We see this today when we watch the news and read articles on controversial topics.
Instead, turn to Ephesians 4 and listen to Paul’s instruction on unity in Christ. As believers, we are all given a gift. We are to be humble and gentle; patient, bearing with one another in love. Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. We should strive to maintain oneness in a culture that wants to pull us apart. How do we do this? Paul tells us to be completely humble and gentle. Practice gentleness as if we were each breakable. Practice the thoughts of not being more highly than another and honor one another above yourselves.
I enjoy talking with friends but I often see the conversation becoming heated and tense when we start to discuss our opinions. For example, it is very difficult for me to not become defensive on the issue of abortion. I have a strong belief that life begins at conception and should be protected. So when I hear someone’s opposing view I immediately want to defend my agenda. Do I try and change their mind? Do I defend the little embryos who have no voice? I’m still struggling to figure this one out. Jesus and his apostles provide us all of this great instruction in the Bible but it’s a challenge to apply it to our own lives sometimes. I suppose in Paul’s teachings the agenda is still the same and the agenda still divides us. I can have my opinion but share it with humility and gentleness and represent Christ in my life.