It was once a lot easier to be a Christian who experienced unity in community. At least it seemed that way as a kid.
I always seemed to have an instant connection or bond with even a stranger when I found out they were a Christian. We knew many of our principles, morals, and ethics were similar. We knew our perspectives on the world and our role in it were very similar. It’s very possible that I was just naive and this never existed, but there was often a sense of camaraderie when I encountered another Christian rather than a hesitancy or reservation.
Not only is our culture in America changing, but so is our culture within the church. Hostility is on the rise and sides are being taken. It’s no longer about the blood of Jesus binding us together, but about what your stance is on today’s critical issues.
Both sides are yelling at each other, “Do your research” and “Don’t be blind.” We’re at a stalemate, and Christians are refusing to listen to other Christians. On some days, I too fear I’ve fallen into the hostility and tension swirling around us.
I genuinely believe most Christians on both sides of every issue are doing their best to think through each topic with a sense of spiritual maturity and biblical foundation. But it’s so easy to lose sight of the desires of people’s hearts when they’re full of rage and fear.
Over the past year and half, there have been a number of topics we’ve approached on this blog that have left Christians disagreeing with us and being outright furious with us. This has become a very normal experience for anyone wading into the waters of hot topic issues. We truly believe it’s important for these types of conversations to be had in general, but also publicly.
As you continue to have these difficult conversations publicly and privately, here are four common missteps that contribute to the deterioration of Christian unity.
1. Rage First, Love Later
The strategy of shoot first and ask questions later might be wise during combat. But it’s less useful when trying to engage in meaningful and healthy relationships. When it comes to the way we share our thoughts, beliefs, and conclusions on any given topic, the way we do it matters.
Each and every person, regardless of their religion, gender, ethnicity, or status is created in the image of God. They have intrinsic value and worth. Whether the person disagreeing with you is a loved one in the room with you or a stranger on the internet, you simply must engage with them as a person with great value and worth.
It shouldn’t take us hearing another person’s heart wrenching story for us to be reminded they are, in fact, human. We must walk into every public or private conversation with love.
It’s no secret that Christians are called to love the world in the same way Jesus has loved it. Everyone knows this. And yet, our love for one another is the first thing to go when we enter contentious conversations. We simply must not let our rage and passion conceal our love for other people, Christian or otherwise. When we begin name calling, accusation hurling, and being downright rude, we’ve allowed our rage to take control and love is nowhere to be found.