I want to speak to the church today. It’s Sunday afternoon, and pastors all over our nation have been actively preaching a message of peace, getting back to God and loving one another as we love ourselves. The message is warranted; it’s true and it’s definitely needed. But there is an underlying problem with the act of putting the message into practice. Please don’t misinterpret what I just said. God’s Word is not the problem. The issue is us…the church.
The world is experiencing interesting yet frightening and frustrating times right now. In the second half of 2020, things seem to be increasingly worse at face value, and as we are accustomed to doing, we tend to point fingers at the problem to place blame; as if identifying a culprit might bring some sort of closure. And there is where the problem surfaces. We—the church—are actively participating in the blame game, just like the world.
Social media is rife with the “righteous” arguments of some believers spouting their opinions on how well the current president is doing; but also saturated with the opinions of other believers—who speak about serving the same God—who are just as passionate and “righteous” about the horrible job the same president is doing. These two sides are so split on their views, that’s it actually causes unspoken division within the church. Now, I say unspoken, because in many instances, these differences of opinions never surface when the brethren meet face to face. But the differences are blatantly displayed in social media; the hatred for one-another apparent; all over a man of flesh and blood.
The same can be said regarding the hot-button issue of racial injustice. There are Christians who choose to turn a blind eye to the inequalities within the church, while there are those who are outspoken regarding these issues. Let me back up for a minute. Did you get that? Within.The.Church. Some Christians tend to forget that this very same issue was addressed in the early years of the first church. It didn’t just magically disappear. It’s still a thing.
The point I’m making is this: these are only two examples of the big issue we have. We—the church—are not united. We are, in fact, divided. Because of this division, we are having a hard time influencing those around us, because we’re too busy behaving the way they do. Most “church-folk” are familiar with the scripture of Mark 3:25, but how many of us actually believe in it? I would go so far as to say, not many because I see the social media arguments; I see the rhetoric; I see the written jabs between two Christians on opposing sides of any given argument. We’re divided. We can’t make a difference in the world this way.
Now, I’m not writing this to say, “We’ve failed”. I’m writing it to open up dialogue. There will no doubt be brethren who will be offended at the words written, and feel the need to either defend their opinions, or worse, say nothing at all, but harbor a secret hate for my own opinions. And honestly, either is okay. I think there was a reason Jesus chose 12 very different individuals as His apostles. I’m sure they didn’t always see eye to eye. But when it came to following Him, they were of one accord. That was the key. When it came to following Jesus, they put their personal opinions aside and locked arms in support of Him. Church, we’re not doing that today. Today, we’re willing to side with whichever brother or sister best sides with our own personal world views.
I’m not excluded in this perversion of our human failures. Those who know me best know my feelings on politics. I’ve lost “friends” and “family” because of my political beliefs. I’ve harbored hatred in my own heart over political comments written by “church-family”. I’m just as guilty of contributing to our division as anyone else. And these days, I feel that burden heavy on my heart like never before in my lifetime. I’ve placed God second to the influences of the world. And when faced with trying to put Him first, the enemy is quick to remind me of what sister so-n-so said about my chosen-candidate, or how brother so-n-so commented on black folks’ complaints of injustice. These are real feelings coming from people I’m expected to love and trust as I love and trust myself. This is the church. And I’m contributing to that yeast.
We—the church—have to change that. It can’t be superficial; it has to be deep. We have to make a conscious effort every day to put aside our personal opinions and really seek God’s grace; His mercy; His wisdom. Right now, our house isn’t dividing; it’s divided past tense. The message of “trust in Jesus” has to be more than mere words for all of us, because truthfully, we’re not living that out. If you’re offended by that statement, then there’s your proof. We—the church—have to be united under the banner of Christ.
If I can really keep it 100% with you today, I’ll share what my wife already knows. This thing is so heavy on my heart today, I find it hard to pray for America to be blessed. When I hear the words, “We need to pray for America,” that sounds foreign to me. I find it comforting instead to pray for God’s will to be done in all of our lives; whatever that may look like in the coming days, weeks, months…or years. I trust Him to do what He’s going to do. I’m trying to place Him first, over the prosperity of our country. I’m trying my hardest to pray for God to soften my heart to well-meaning brothers and sisters of faith, in these troubling times. I’m trying to pray for us to be united under Him, first. If we can do that, I think He can fix us. If we can be fixed, maybe we really can change the world. But, that change is only going to come when we–the church–start at home. We have to search our own hearts and give whatever divides us over to the Lord. Only then, can there be real and lasting healing.