WILL WE EVER BE UNITED?
During a divisive period, it’s easy to get caught up in our many differences. From political beliefs to social identities and even religious affiliations, we disagree a lot. With conflict arising in social media, the news, and even within our social circles, we often feel isolated and stressed. How do we overcome today’s era of division?
Being United in Jesus Christ
In an ideal world our differences would be celebrated, not resented. But thanks to a bombardment of opinionated exchanges broadcast to us daily we cannot help but be influenced, even if we’re trying our best to remain objective about cable news opinions or social media slants. When confronted with opposing views, our first natural reaction is to defend our position while coloring the other person as wrong. Sometimes, it feels like we are constantly under attack.
If we are completely honest, our tendency is to emphasize our differences over our similarities. Truthfully, we hold more in common with others than may appear on the surface. All of us suffer from the inability to do what’s right all of the time. Failure is a part of human nature, and no matter how hard we try, we cannot uphold a perfect moral standard of living.
Thankfully, we can be united in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Some of us may maintain different beliefs in how, exactly, Christ’s atoning on the cross affects us today. Still, the fact that Jesus wants all of us to be saved should be cause enough for us to rejoice together.
Ours is not the first society to confront disunion. Throughout all of history people faced disharmony and prejudices. A glance through the Bible reveals schisms dating back thousands of years. In 1 Corinthians, Paul declared that all believers belong to Christ and that we all share a desire for redemption. We can certainly use what Hebrews 2:9 says that “Jesus sacrificed Himself for everyone…” as the means toward reconciliation through our shared belief in what Jesus did for you and me.
Our Common Need for Jesus Christ Unites Us
That God created us in His image does not discount the wonderful diversity we see amongst people. If we all looked, thought, and behaved in the exact same manner, life would be boring if not outright stifling. Moreover, genetic copies would make us vulnerable to illness and other human flaws.
Diversity can strengthen us, even when we view it as a challenge. True, diversity of thought can evoke anxiety or anger, but when considering alternative views we can actually bolster what we believe as true, or modify our viewpoint in developing a stronger stance. When validated by what God teaches us in His Word, a nuanced way of thinking could actually reinforce our personal beliefs or grow us in wisdom to make some positive adjustments.
Still Struggling With Differences? Try These:
Look for Ways to Return Love for Hate
It’s been said that the most revolutionary concept Jesus brought to the world when he walked this earth was to “do good to those who hate you” (Matthew 5:44). Our responsibilities do not include judging indiscriminately. Consider the cliché about casting stones and glass houses. Instead of looking for faults in those who disagree with you, look for ways to show grace just as God shows us grace every day. Though difficult at first, continually returning grace for disagreement will actually lesson unnecessary conflicts over the long term. In an increasingly negative culture, we naturally want to blame opposing sides. Try looking for opportunities to return good for evil, and if that is too hard at first, use some friendly humor. For example, not long ago I heard someone tell a person that he was fat. Instead of returning the insult, the accused said, “You must be a motivational speaker. Have a nice day.”
Read Bible Verses about Loving One Another
The Bible is brimming full of verses that command us to love one other, despite our differences. 1 Peter 1:22 states “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.” Other verses worth reading include Hebrews 13:1 and John 15:12. Jesus noted the second greatest commandment as “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).
Be the First to Forgive and Seek Reconciliation
Don’t wait for somebody else to make peace, take the lead. Jesus had every reason to avenge his persecutors, but instead one of His final petitions on the cross was to forgive them. Being a leader means being the first to make a positive change. The easy road leads to blaming others and making excuses. Leaders find the high road toward a constructive destination that unites us in love while emphasizing mutual agreements.Note: Forgiveness doesn’t require that we must agree with an offender. It means that the offense will not determine a likeminded approach toward retribution. You may never fully agree, but you can still appreciate that, as humans, you and your ‘adversary’ are worthy of respect as human beings with common needs.
Loving one another as Jesus Christ loves us is not easy. It necessitates that we grow closer to God through prayer, knowing His Truth, and maturing our faith through both worship and fellowship. By growing closer to God, we inherently adopt more of a Christ mindset. That begins by recognizing our common need of a savior. Only then can we remove the log from our own eye to take care of the speck in our fellow human being’s eyes.