Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. Colossians 3:15
This past week I discussed or more correctly asked some questions of those who were more on the religious left. A few weeks ago I talked about the problems with the religious right. What I see as the biggest problem is how each side read the Bible. Funny how what is supposed to be God’s word can be so divisive and read in so many ways.
How we choose to read the Bible tells a lot about what our beliefs will be. Literalists will discuss the rapture, anti-Christ, tribulation, Hell, Heaven, pro marriage, anti homosexual right, pro-life, Republican politics. The left will discuss unity of all people, the spirit of Christ’s return, who wrote this section of the Bible? Was it J, E, D, P, or A, or sometimes R? They won’t talk about the tribulation and anti-Christ because it isn’t going to happen. Those issues were for the writer’s time and not for today. I’m taking a guess but I’d think most would vote Democrat but I also think they wouldn’t put a lot of stock in who was in office. Most literalist would have no idea what those letters mean.
So there are a lot of things that could pull us apart, but it shouldn’t. Instead it should bring us together to discuss our views. That’s discussing the issue, not argue about why you are right. I say that because that is often what it turns into. Some heated argument about why we are right. We often debate and not discuss our differences. Debating means that I have to win. Discussing means people taking the opportunity to learn from each other. Don’t we serve the same God?
I believe that we have differences because that same God that we all serve has shown us what we need in our lives. I have moved from the right towards the middle as God has shown me the hurts that living the ways of the right was missing. Others I’m sure have moved from left towards the right for the same reasons. If we do not move back and forth we probably aren’t learning anything and maybe we just simply become a Pharisee who seemed to think they knew what God really wanted. After all that is what we’ve grown up with. That must be right. Tradition is always right. Ok that last bit was sarcastic, but I hope you get what I mean. The more we talk to one another the more that we can open each other up to those things we may be missing. Don’t ever think you or your beliefs are perfectly in line with God’s views. That is dangerous. Just ask those in Jonestown, Waco, the KKK, or Nazi Germany. All thought or think they knew God’s will. And yes, the Nazi’s did believe strongly in their idea of Christianity. They even had a group searching for Christian Relics because it would bring them the power that they wanted.
Yes, they may be extremists, but the more we believe we have the only way the more it leads to hate for those not like you, bigotry, self-importance and explosions at abortion clinics. If you feel that you know it all then anyone who disagrees with you must be a sinner and therefore bound for some kind of punishment, but not the reward that a person who is right in the eyes of God, whatever that right means. Often these people come off as very judgmental, because they seem to think that because they are right with God they can tell anyone all their sins and what God will do to them. This can be people in or out of the church. It doesn’t seem to matter to them, who they put down.
Jesus prayed for unity in John 17 and Paul likened the believers to one body in 1 Corinthians 12. It seems that we are having the same problems that Paul addressed. Our eyes are saying to our feet, “I know the right way to go” Our hands are saying to our mouth, “you don’t speak for me.” The head says to the ears, “why don’t you listen to God.” And Jesus says to the heart “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me”, because we leave him out when we fight amongst ourselves.
Then Jesus turned to us all and said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 12:25 “so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” Not in theology, but in love. Paul follows his thoughts on the part of one body with the love chapter. And what remains is Faith, Hope and Love,” but the greatest of these is Love.”
Yeah, we have differences and that’s OK. That doesn’t mean that we can’t get along. If Jesus wanted us to have unity then we can, but it’s up to each one of us to put down our guard, our predispositions, our traditions, our theologies, and give it a chance. Are you willing to let go of those things that make you angry at other believers? Can you let go of those things that you hold as absolutes that may not be and to listen, truly listen, and learn from one another? I think we need to try, it sure can’t hurt.