O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(“In Times of Conflict,” The Book of Common Prayer)
As has happened so often in the past few years, we have yet again witnessed chaos, strife, and division in our nation. And sadly, the pattern of response remains the same.
Many take to social media, some in opposition, some in support, and some just to scream and yell at others. Was your first move in trying events to flee to social media?
As followers of Jesus, may our first response be different. This was our year of prayer. This was our year of unity. This was the year to overcome and it is not too late. Let us consider why the church needs to stop following the world’s response and be different.
We must realize we are bound together by our union with Christ. I know there will be a variety of political opinions in the church, but Paul says this to the church, “Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:6). In an age that emphasizes our differences, let us be known as a people who look for our similarities. Our union with Christ and with each other should drive us to respond with truth, love, and empathy.
Help Our Struggles
Speaking from experience, struggles are a normal part of life. Even though some believe that the Christian life will only be filled with prosperity, can I let you in on a secret?
God knows we will have struggles.
Scripture is filled with examples of those whose lives have been marked by suffering. I love the book of 1 Peter. This is a letter written to a group of people who are experiencing great struggle and persecution. Peter says, “When your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (1 Peter 1:7). Struggles, whether private or collective, will also be a part of our world.
A former pastor would frequently tell me, “We are on the winning team!” There is so much truth about this statement. First, Christ has already won the battle on our behalf (Galatians 2:20). Let us not forget that we have been set free.
Second, we have been set free as a team. Our team mission is not any political affiliation, our team mission is to make Jesus known in this world. I recently had to tell someone, “When one person on the team loses, the whole team loses.”
Brothers and sisters, let us look to lift up others around us. Let us be the encouragers. Let us be the ones “working together with mutual forbearance and respect.”
Paul prays this for the church at Corinth, “I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” (1 Corinthians 1:10)