We are living in a day and age that is more polarized than at any other time in my lifetime. That is a refrain I am hearing from many others as well. The divisiveness is causing strife within our communities, the Church, and even in many families. Recently I sat at a wedding reception where a friend poured out her heart to me that at Christmas, in exchange for the gifts she sent to her sister, she received a letter notifying her that her sister no longer wanted to have anything to do with her. Her reason? Their political viewpoints were so far apart that she thought it was hopeless to think they could have a relationship.
It is almost impossible to tune into any news outlet without hearing caustic comments, discord, and dissension. Facebook--which initially helped friends to connect-- has become a vehicle that now is separating those same ‘friends’ due to views expressed and pictures posted that align the person with a particular ‘side’ of our increasingly fractured culture. Instead of healthy, respectful discussions about the differences in viewpoints, the modus operandi all too often seems to be pride-filled personal attacks that stir up fear, prejudice, and hatred, creating barriers that separate people rather than building bridges that unify them.
Is there any hope for our fragmented society and world?
Yes, there is! However, we must keep in mind that our fight truly is not with one another: we are wrestling against the powers and principalities of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). We are in a spiritual battle with Satan and his demonic hordes, whose goal is always to ‘rob, steal, kill and destroy’. Satan is using his age-old method of‘division’; first, dividing us from God and His Word, and then working to bring division among God’s most treasured creation, mankind. Satan has blinded people to his schemes and the reality that he is the one behind the divisiveness.
Regrettably, even within the family of God—those who have received the free gift of salvation that He offers--we appear to be oblivious that it is Satan who is behind the schemes to divide us from one another, and we frequently play right into his plan to 'divide and conquer'. All too often we live in apathy toward and divided from one another-- if not outright conflict-- misrepresenting the heart of our Father in Heaven Who longs for His children to live in harmony with one another and to love one another as He has loved us.
We have allowed sin—particularly the sin of prejudice that is rooted in the sin of pride—whether it be racial, denominational, or socio-economic--to divide us as the Body of Christ.
But He, [well] aware of their intent and purpose, said to them, Every kingdom split up against itself is doomed and brought to desolation, and so house falls upon house. [The disunited household will collapse.] Luke 11:17 AMP
Our sin of pride is not only playing into Satan’s scheme of bringing division among God’s children, it also grieves the heart of God Who longs for unity among those who have put their faith in Him. He desires that they experience the joy of oneness in Him, and He also wants the world to come to know Him by seeing the love and unity that Christians share in Him!
I do not pray for these alone [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for [all] those who [will ever] believe and trust in Me through their message, that they all may be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe [without any doubt] that You sent Me. John 17:20-23 AMP
Our Heavenly Father longs for the world to know Him by our love for one another. The trinity is one, and He longs for His disciples to accurately represent the triune God's love by our love for each other and our living in unity with one another.
I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another. John 13:34-35 AMP
As His children, we have the opportunity--and the commandment--to bring glory to God and to make His Name known by our loving one another as He has loved us.
This is My commandment, that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another, just as I have loved you. John 15:12 AMP
As stated, we are in a spiritual battle, so a spiritual solution is necessary to overcome our enemy Satan. That solution is to be found: first, in our receiving God’s love; then, in our loving God; and lastly, in our loving others as He has loved us. God, Who is love, (1st John 4:8) demonstrated what true, unconditional love looks like by sending His Son Jesus to earth to die for us ‘while we were yet sinners’ (Romans 5:8). Our sin had separated us from God, who is holy, and the only way that we could be reconciled to Him was through the atoning work of His perfect and beloved Son Jesus who took our sin upon Himself and died in our place on the cross. Jesus is the ‘bridge’ whose death and resurrection enables all who put their trust in His atoning death to be reconciled to God the Father. The Holy Spirit is the priceless gift that is given to all who put their faith in Jesus, and the Holy Spirit empowers us to be reconciled with others, to love them as He has loved us. Sacrificially. Selflessly. Unconditionally.
Jesus lived out 1st Corinthian 13 love:
Jesus endured with patience and serenity, Jesus was kind and thoughtful, and He was not jealous or envious; Jesus did not brag nor was He proud or arrogant. Jesus was not rude; He was not self-seeking, He was not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; He did not take into account a wrong endured. Jesus did not rejoice at injustice, but He rejoiced with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Jesus bore all things [regardless of what came], He believed all things [looked for the best in each one], and He had hope in all things [remained steadfast during difficult times], He endured all things [without weakening]. Note: the name Jesus or “He’ was inserted in place of the word ‘love’ and the verb tense was changed where appropriate in the above passage taken from the Amplified version of 1st Corinthians 13: 4-7
If you inserted your name into the above passage, would the statement be true of you as it is for Jesus? What would your relationship with your family, friends, acquaintances, the Body of Christ, the world at large, and especially those with whom you differ, look like if you demonstrated Christlike love to them?
You may wonder, ‘Does love mean accepting everyone’s viewpoint and condoning their beliefs, even if that means endorsing what is unrighteous before God?’. No, not at all! Jesus is not only the epitome of love, but He is also Truth. Love and truth are inextricably linked together. If we truly love others as Christ has loved us, we must share the truth with them, but we will do so in the spirit of love. We will also follow Jesus’ example and intercede with prayers for those who have been deceived and taken captive by Satan to do his will, praying that the eyes of their heart will be opened and that they will have the faith to comprehend ‘how wide, long, high and deep, is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-- that they may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God’. (Ephesians 3:18-19)
How different our world would be if we who claim to be Jesus’ disciples demonstrated our love for Him: by obeying His command ‘to love one another as He has loved us’; by living in obedience to 1st Corinthians 13:4-7; and by praying for those with whom we differ! We would be lights shining forth in the darkness of this world, pointing the world to Jesus, the Source of our Light and all Love, who is able and longs to set the world free from its enslavement to pride, fear, prejudice, and hatred, and Who alone is able to empower us to love one another as He has loved us so that the world will come to know Him and receive Him as their Savior and Lord!