Deep divide. We live in a rather binary society. If you’re not one, you’re the other. If you’re not with us, you’re against us. We’re also in a time where to be on that other side can have grave results. You have one side assuring you they’re the answer. You have the other side venemously pointing out the first’s flawed track record. Each side interrupts the other, tries to speak above the other and as a result, nothing gets heard in the shouting match. Insults, belittlement, war analogies aplenty ensue.
The ugly in the mirror. What I described would aptly fit with the presidential debates. However, would it not fit just as well as a description of the Church today? Maybe your church doesn’t do this and I’m really grateful for it. Maybe your church does it passive aggressively and you’re not aware of it. The various neighborhoods or towns within the Kingdom are all fighting for the honor of the “best place to live”. However, we’re going about it by spurning all others despite claiming the same allegiance and similar missions. We are nothing more than bickering children fighting for a father’s love, but our Father has more than enough to go around.
Pick your battles. So, I’ve belonged to the denomination of non-denominational churches pretty much all my life. Infer all you want at this point, but that only serves to prove my point here. We fight over things such as predestination, what the time after the return of Jesus will look like, how and how often to perform the Lord’s Supper. Looking over that list, I’m appalled. While we’re at it, we might as well just fight over the locations in which services can be held and the allowable color palette for a church building. What is it we’re fighting over here? Are the things over which we’re ready to condemn others’ souls weighty enough that souls are actually on the line? I’ve never been to heaven or hell, but I can’t imagine any of the aforementioned issues was a deciding factor. Friends, we’ve made mountains out of molehills (to borrow a phrase from an old friend).
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
What matters? I think the ultimate litmus test to answer this question is to ask about an issue if one’s soul is at stake. If a matter amounts to endangering the eternal well being of an individual, then it is of the gravest importance. Otherwise, whatever floats your boat, but I do hope there is an ounce of Biblical truth to go along with that floating. Calling Jesus a prophet and a good man, nothing more, now that would be an issue. Debating over which cross was actually used in His crucifixion: get over it. Again, take a minute and determine the true stakes of the issue at hand. Soul? Fight. Anything less? Debate, calmly.
Maybe I’m the one making much out of nothing, but you tell me. Maybe I’m the one about whom I complain (and I am). Maybe it’s you, too. Maybe we need to love those who are also trying to spread the hope and joy of Christ. We all have our unique faith stories and have come to different conclusions. Is it not better that the Gospel is being spread and shared? Paul seemed to think so, but that was before today’s deep divide.