Yesterday we had a chance to pause and focus on something positive, honoring Veterans. When we think of a Veteran, we don’t think of a political party or race. We simply get to acknowledge a person’s service and sacrifice. Their identity as a Veteran is stronger than any other label.
Those who served know you have very little choice in a lot of things. You don’t get to pick your Commanding Officer, your roommates (in a berthing on a ship…that can be a lot of roommates!!) or the people you have to work with. You have to figure it out because the mission of your unit is more important than your personal perspective. Is there ever conflict? Absolutely and sometimes that conflict is significant. It takes good leadership and proper focus to deal with those conflicts.
By now you have looked at the title of this post and you read the last paragraph and you know where I am going. In my last post I shared my frustration about how segregated out churches are. If we truly are a body called to work together, we must see segregation limiting our effectiveness. Jesus said the world would know we are his disciples by our love for one another (John 13:35). Put that alongside Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount to love more than just the people we like (Matthew 5:43-47) and the bar is set pretty high. So high in fact the only way we could pull it off is if we had God’s help…hmmm maybe that was God’s plan all along.
If people look in our churches and see great communities but everyone looks alike and tends to agree on issues of politics or other social topics, then the church is really no different than their work’s softball team. The only difference is they probably feel they can be themselves at softball.
I am not advocating we focus on unity. I am saying if we truly focus on Jesus one of the byproducts will be a community with unity and a love that is very distinctive from the world.
I was listening to a podcast on a social science experiment regarding bystander intervention on college campuses. The researchers did not know how to handle an interesting finding. People they classified as conservative Christians were very likely to speak up if they saw someone discriminating against a person who was gay. I was not surprised. I expect Christians to speak up and stand by a person being wronged. I was proud of the Christians at that college who were being true to their faith.
So what do we do? We take this strategic opportunity to start building bridges with people different than us. We work to make our churches distinctive communities. A good place to start is to reach out to people who are struggling with the results of the election. Find out why they are having a hard time. Simply listen and try to understand. Then, stay connected. Build a relationship and build a church that will stand as a distinctive light four years from now…yep we will have another election…sorry.
Four years from now wouldn’t it be amazing if there were churches where people worshiped together even though they completely disagreed on politics because they loved Jesus and each other more. The world would be shocked. Here is the cool part. I believe we would also be more effective because we would be a body able to draw from all of our gifts, strengths and perspectives.
What would we tell the world? We would say we are just following Jesus. After all he did say, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”