What Connects Us Is Greater Than What Divides Us
“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. ” Ephesians 4:4-6 (ESV)
Just 39 verses into the Bible (Genesis 2:8), God introduces His original design of “connection” – a beautiful garden planted in Eden, a place where the man He formed (Adam) could connect and unite with the Lord. A few verses later (Genesis 2:22) we’re introduced to Eve. And so community and connected relationships began.
We know the story that followed
In one sense, the entire Bible tells the unfolding of this story – our unity with God and each other unraveling bit by bit through the generations. This growing separation continued until the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In the very moment God Himself descended from His infinite position of eternal Godhood and into the finite limitations of manhood, the connection and unity between humans and the Father was re-established.
Unimaginable, but true!
Yet today’s headlines and social media platforms seem to be replaying the ancient, pre-Christ story. Strife, division, hatred, isolation … a perfect recipe for separating us from each other and separating us from God. A perfect strategy for the Enemy to divide us from eternal salvation.
As Christians, how should we respond to the seemingly endless debates over right and wrong, justice and privilege? Are we truly that different, or does God continuously show us how much we actually have in common?
We explore that question in this week’s message
It saddens me to see today’s Church divided in so many areas, particularly in light of Jesus’ instruction from Mark 3:25 that “if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”
Here are a few thoughts that may help inform us.
Differences, rather than division, are natural and healthy. Paul tells us in Romans 12:4-5 that just as we have many parts to our own bodies, all working together for the common good, the Church is made up of billions of members – different creeds, colors, and backgrounds each working in unison to advance the Kingdom.
That said, the Church was designed for unity, not division. We were made to work together in kingdom building. Still, division can often serve a valuable purpose in revealing who God has chosen to step into leadership (1 Corinthians 11:19). In the right circumstances, division points out who is following God and who is not.
God is pleased when we come together in what unites us rather than when we are pulled apart on the lines dividing us (Psalm 133:1).
God desires us to encourage each other even through our differences rather than tear each other down (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Yet what does this mean in a 21st Century world? Where do we turn to find unity? Clearly, politics doesn’t unite us. And for all the accessibility made possible by social media, sharing our opinions doesn’t seem to bring much unity.
As I reflected on this question it occurred to me that we sometimes just overthink the problem! Ultimately, the answers are right there, simply staring us in the face. I believe it comes down to five things:
- There are only two types of human beings – those who accept their membership in the family of God, and those who do not. Color, ethnicity, backgrounds – none of these things matter to God when considering salvation.
- Unhealthy division should be killed at its root. Prejudice and integration are secular words used by the world for decades. Prejudice is the result of the problem, not its cause. The real issue is division itself – division from God and from each other.
- Our desire for wisdom is important to God. Proverbs 4:7 tells us “Wisdom is the principal thing.” When we seek wisdom, God gives us the power to look beyond division and seek unity.
- Love each other as we love ourselves. This is the essence of Jesus’ second greatest commandment. There is no distinction between skin color, background, or any other worldly difference.
- Choose to forgive each other. Forgiveness lies at the very heart of the Christian life, and laying aside divisions is the best defense against the division Satan attempts to sow in our hearts.
We’ve made so much progress as God’s creation over the ages. Yet we still have so far to go. In one way, we’ve actually returned to the garden – walled gardens of our individual identities and separations. Walled gardens marked by how different we are rather than celebrating how much we all have in common. Walled gardens that keep others out and keep us locked inside.
Let’s not let worldly divisions stand between us. Ask God to help you and others pursue Christ so that any division would be dissolved as you focus on Him. Choose Christ over conflict. And then, reach out to your brother or sister in Christ and tell them you love them – regardless of how different you (or they) may be!
If you found this message helpful and would like to join us each week, click here to subscribe to the Weekly Things of Faith for more inspiration and hope-filled messages!