“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos”, or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ”. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:10-13)
I used to receive emails everyday from people wondering what “brand” of Christianity I was. I always felt so uncomfortable answering the question because I know that once you reveal your brand, you risk losing the respect of those that have different theological beliefs. I’ll admit that I’ve been guilty of disregarding what someone has to say based on what denomination they affiliate with. I used to have a lot of pride in my brand and believed that we had things mostly right, in spite of our flaws.
That all changed for me when I shared a hotel room with two Catholics and a Baptist. Can you picture it? Two Catholics, a Baptist, and a Pentecostal, all in one room. Sounds like the start to a terrible joke, but our jokes were hilarious and we laughed until we cried. We stayed up way past our bedtime talking about faith and our love for Jesus and how much we wanted the world to know Him the way we did. You could almost hear the stereotypes and faulty thinking shattering around us. It was a beautiful weekend and we started celebrating ecumenical friendships (a term I learned from my Catholic sisters).
As the events in our country continue to divide us, I’ve observed the way the church has been affected. Theological differences used to be tense, yet respectful conversations and now they are life and death. Black and white. Divisive and destructive. We aren’t speaking to each other, we are accusing. We are talking over each other instead of listening. We are ignoring the hurts of our brothers and sisters because we are assumptive and dismissive. We have united our theology with our politics and are seeing each other as political affiliations instead of members of the same body. I beg of you to put aside your denominational and political loyalty and listen to each other. The body of Christ is broken.
My theology is not higher than yours.
My political party is not better than yours.
My theology and my political party are not the same thing.
Jesus is not a Republican or a Democrat or an Independent or Green Party or Libertarian
He does not belong to a political party.
He does not belong to a denomination.
He does not belong to our country.
His kingdom is not of this earth.
We are called to set our sights higher. Our country is broken and divided, but we cannot attempt to fix anything unless we are united as the body of Christ. Powerful, miraculous things happen when Christians are united in prayer, in spirit, and in mind. Let’s pave the way for unity. Let’s set the example for the rest of the country to follow. Our God is the God of redemption and reconciliation, but you’d never know it looking at us now. So set the standard in your community. Stop fighting and trying to prove a point. Stop rolling your eyes and writing people off. Respect other opinions, interpretations, and values. Set your pride aside and try to see people the way that Jesus does. In all that you do, ask yourself, “Will this unify or divide?” Listen without judgment. Speak kindly. Love without condition.
Find yourself a friend outside of your immediate circle and learn from each other. Create something beautiful together. Reach out to the hurting, the broken, the rejected. Share the Gospel instead of your opinions. Don't just talk, do something. God longs to fix the broken things of this world and he wants to use us, if we'll let him. I want to be used. I want to see beautiful things happen in my community. I want to see unity in the body of Christ, in my city, and in our nation. I want people to know Jesus the way I do and that can't happen if I'm only concerned about being right.
Christ is not divided and neither are we. Let's call each other higher and create something beautiful.