“Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:10
Does anybody else feel like they’re watching the church coming apart at the seams, and begging them to cease divisions? Because I do.
Today, many of us are stepping back to remember 9/11—which is, no matter how some try to downplay it, still a great tragedy that has left visible scars on the heart and fabric of our country. I can still remember how school stopped and we sat in front of the television. I can still remember how dumbfounded I felt, having just seen the World Trade Center for the first time a mere week before when my parents took me into the city to see a Broadway musical for my birthday. I remember too that this marks the anniversary of my writing, as I took pen to paper to copy everything that I was seeing in the news and wrote what could be considered my first unpublished blog post. That day, writing became my best mechanism for processing the world around me and I’ve never really stopped.
But I remember also the unity people shared with each other. I remember all children’s programs on TV stopping to show funerals and memorials and dignitaries from many nations speaking out against violence. I remember that for a moment, the country wasn’t Republicans versus Democrats. I remember that we stood united in the face of uncertainty and fear.
I don’t see that today. Today, I see a nation divided. And worse, I see a church divided.
Today, it’s all Republican versus Democrats, believers on both sides claiming that no true Christian can side with the opposition. Today, it’s all black versus white, with violence smearing red blood into both colours that cut into our identity as people made in the image and likeness of God and trample our brothers. Today, I see Christians tearing down other Christians who don’t agree with the exact details of their denomination, yet have the same unwavering belief in the gospel. Today, it’s all vicious speech if you care about racial issues or human trafficking, and vicious speech if you don’t. I read hateful words from the Left, hateful words from the Right, and I stand in the middle as neither… too conservative to be a Democrat, too liberal to be a Republican, all crying out for peace and for the Prince of that Peace to bestow it on a scarred and war-torn country.
My friends, today I am begging those of us who are Christians to be kind to one another and tender with each other, speaking the truth gently and in love to one another as we discuss social issues and politics. I am begging those of us who are not Christians to turn to Christ for peace, to right a completely messed up world. “‘Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.’” Matthew 11:28-30
I so desperately want to say, “Let us unite before we need another tragedy to unite us,” but we are already living in the midst of tragedy. Whether you see the Covid response as something massively overblown or not, people have died. Loved ones, precious people, souls that Jesus cares about. Wherever you stand on matters of racial injustice, see that there are people genuinely hurting. Perhaps if we all looked at the circumstances of the world with a little more compassion, we would be less inclined to be divided.
So today, do not just remember the horrors of September 11, 2001. Don’t just let your hearts burgeon with patriotism. Fix your minds on Jesus, the Prince of Peace and the One who conquers death, the One who’s justice will be done no matter how badly we butcher it here on Earth. Turn your hearts to remember that God is in control of our good times and our striving. Remember His commandments, to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbours as ourselves. Let us not forget to be unified in Christ.
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