United?

We live in the United States of America…but it seems that there’s more ‘division’ than ever before!

We are a nation of ‘Us vs. Them’s’, and we each tend to think that we are the ‘right’ ones, and those who disagree with us are simply wrong.

You name the issue: Global Warming/Climate Change; Economic Strategy; Abortion; Sexuality; 2nd Amendment…the list could go on.

Question: Why has the ‘climate’ gotten so divisive? What has happened over the last 20 years or so to change things like this? We used to be able to have discussions and even disagreements, but we’d often be able to come together in a ‘workable’ solution. Now the only ‘workable’ solution seems to be if I change my mind and agree with you…or vise verse.

Personally, I think that one of the reasons for this divisiveness is a lack of humility. We have simply lost the ability to say ‘I don’t know everything about this’, or to take the posture of learning from others–especially those we disagree with.

A related development is our refusal to tolerate people who disagree with us. Now we seem to have reached a point that, if you disagree with my point of view, I must seek not only to ‘convince’ you, but (if unsuccessful at that), I will seek to punish you, to embarrass you, shame you and drive you away.

There is a remarkable lack of graciousness and maturity. There is a remarkable lack of humility in our culture today…and it is found in both political parties, to be sure!

Another Question: Is there anywhere that we can see a better example?

I believe there is, and it is in The Church.

By ‘The Church’, I am not speaking of a denomination, nor am I speaking of a religion. I am speaking of a group of people who have found New Life, by faith in Jesus. As part of that New Life, they are being made into a ‘New People’–the Church–that is learning to accept one another, encourage one another, and love one another.

It happened back in the beginning of the Church age, and it continues today. As we at KCC (http://www.mykcc.org) discovered last Sunday, Paul wrote to the Ephesians about the amazing way that God was bringing 2 groups of people who hated each other (or at best, ‘tolerated’ each other) into one group…and even more!

“In those days you (Gentiles) were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.

But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.

For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.

He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.

So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.” (Ephesians 2:11-19)

Paul writes that the Gentiles–formally ‘unclean outsiders’ were now welcomed in because of Jesus. HE has made peace between us all. HE has made possible our entrance into The Faith, and HE is the One who changes our lives. God has welcomed us into His Family because of our faith in Jesus Christ.

Why would The Church be able to consistently do this? Why would true faith–all inclusive faith in Jesus–make it possible to not only ‘tolerate’ those I used to hate, but to ‘accept’ them, and even ‘LOVE’ them? Why would my faith in Jesus enable me to CELEBRATE them?

Because all of it is ‘by Grace, through faith, in Christ, alone’ (see Ephesians 2:1-9). Before I can come to faith in Jesus, I must humble myself–there’s no other way. If I am going to see my need clearly, I must humble myself before God and confess my sin, before I can receive His forgiveness and salvation. As I do, I realize that it is not my ‘goodness’ of any kind that brings me into ‘The Family of God’–it is wholly His grace and mercy.

Once I’ve truly experienced that, then I am changed. I am humbled. From that point onward, anyone who truly comes to Jesus in humble, repentant and life-altering faith, is also ‘welcomed’ into the family of God, and should be welcomed by me!

So, what does this look like?

Are you a ‘Climate Alarmist’? Are you a ‘Progressive liberal’? Are you a person of another race/ethnicity? Are you a ‘Pro-Abortion advocate’, or a ‘militant LGBTQ activist’? Are you a ‘Gun-grabbing liberal’?

If so, I’m going to disagree with you (I am the opposite, in each case), and I’m going to challenge you, (respectfully, I hope).  (Incidentally, I don’t use those terms, typically…just making a point.)

However, if you are one who has come to faith in Jesus Christ–humble, life-changing faith, and you are willing to sit with me and worship Him, to study His Word and pray for each other, and to ask the Holy Spirit to guide each of us in submitting ourselves to Him and following Him, first and foremost, then I believe–as challenging as it will be–that we can have real ‘fellowship’ together. I will do my best to ‘accept’ you and ‘love’ you!

…and perhaps, in so doing, our culture can learn something from The Church again.

The key: Not ‘Unity’ by itself; but ‘Unity In Christ’!

It is only through humble faith in Him that we receive His grace, and therefore can give His grace.

Is it possible to have ‘unity’ in our culture?

I’m not sure…doesn’t look very promising.

Is it possible, however, to have ‘unity’ in the Church?

Yes–IF we are willing to humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from our wicked ways (see 2 Chronicles 7:14)–each of us–then He will bring us to unity, and HE will be glorified!

Can we do it? The early church did, because God brought them to it…are you willing?

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