With our congregation as diverse as Westgate Chapel, I wrestled with what our proper response should be this past Sunday to the volatile rhetoric on both sides of several divisive issues polarizing our nation right now, from Ferguson, Missouri to immigration. I am sure that opinions on these issues run the gamut within our own church, so addressing it at all, risked upsetting people…something every pastor wants to avoid at all costs.
But as a community of faith, we could not afford to be silent. So on Sunday, in both services, I asked the congregation to set aside whatever positions they might have taken on any of the issues…because I believe there is something far more sinister at work right now.
For as long as humans have been on the earth and since Satan was cast out of heaven, one of his primary assaults on God’s creation has been to incite division.
This partial list is evidence enough:
- Adam & Eve against God
- Cain against Abel
- Lot against Abraham
- Sarah against Ishmael
- Eleven of Jacob’s sons against Joseph
- Moabites against his own father (David)
- Pharisees against Jesus
- Sanhedrin against the Apostles
- Nero against all Christians
- Nazis against the Jews
- Japanese against the Chinese
- North Koreans against the South Koreans
- Croatians against the Serbs
- Shiite Muslims against Sunni Muslims
- Russians against Ukrainians
- White against Black
- Male against female
- Husbands against Wives
- Management against Worker
- Rich against Poor
This is life in the world under Satan’s influence, but what should it be like in God’s people, in His house?
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, answers that question…the Body of Christ is where the hostility stops. The walls of suspicion, accusation and mistrust that divide a nation, a people, a family and a culture are torn down in here.
“But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who…has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility…that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” (Ephesians 2:13-16 ESV)
Killing the hostility! So, here is where it has to stop. Not in our house!
So what are we the people of God to do? I believe our only choice is to respond in the opposite spirit of the world. That is one of the most powerful spiritual weapons in the Church’s arsenal.
We don’t have to rail against anything. The media does enough of that.
We just live in the opposite spirit.
- In here, we love one another because God in Christ has first loved us.
- We honor one another from the heart, because Christ honors us by calling us His sons and daughters.
- We take special care for the weaker ones among us, because that is what Jesus did for us when we were weak.
- We bind up the brokenhearted because our hearts have been healed.
But last Sunday was time for us to do more than just talk about our life together. It was time for us to take prophetic action…like Jesus did when He washed His disciples feet (John 13)
Time and space only allowed us to do it in a representative way…as unto the Lord. But it was a prophetic act of solidarity with each other based on all that Jesus has done.
Then, as we all joined in corporate worship, people from the congregation came up and washed the feet of the six representatives of minority populations in the Northwest. It was a glorious and holy moment.
Division and hatred? Not in His House!