Satan delights to divide Christ’s body, to rend it asunder, to inject malice here and bitterness there, to apply cynicism to the mind, to infuse feelings of estrangement into the heart.
All this so that the body in turn bites and devours itself. Division in the local church is horrific spiritual self-harm.
And Satan loves this. He basks in the bloodbath of Christian disunity. And we must hate what he loves. And we must be aware of his schemes, in this area, on these urgent issues, now more than ever.
Let me be absolutely honest. I’ve felt the poison of divisive thinking slowly seeping into my heart over the past week. I’ve been tempted to undue anger, bitter disillusionment, and hasty assumptions, all of which feed the fruit of division. “How could this person believe this or post that or say such a thing? Fool. Ignoramus. Etc.”
I must remind myself that condescending sarcasm, passive aggression, disillusioned dismissal, cynical mockery, uncharitable conclusions, bitter malice, and broadbrushing slander against the royal priesthood of believers ought to have no room for coddling or comfort in Christian hearts.
Here’s an idea, stated negatively. Don’t pigeonhole your brothers and sisters into the most radical fringe of the opposing side. Radical polarization is real. But we too often assume the worst when love thinks the best.
Here’s another idea, stated positively. Practice hospitality. Make a phone call. Schedule a Zoom. Send a message. Invite fellow saints who disagree with you over for dinner. Don’t dodge difficult conversation. Embrace the awkwardness. Parse out differences honestly. Ask sincere questions. Listen with humility. Make helpful distinctions. Demonstrate teachability. Mourn and grieve sympathetically. Be open to blind spots. Pray together for the world’s issues and the church’s witness. Fight the devilish deception that real unity with each other is only possible through absolute uniformity on every point.
This is not ignoring the problem. This is not saying what you believe is unimportant and not urgent. This is not throwing our hands up and saying, “Let’s naively look past all our disagreements and sweep these issues under the rug.”
It is saying that we must refuse to let our enemy win by ripping us apart. We must refuse to believe that if we don’t agree on everything then we can’t unite over anything. Christian unity is an ontological reality because of our shared Christological identity, which actualizes the deepest possible familial solidarity. So, as we seek for faithfulness and fruit in this world, let’s fight against division and for unity from hearts and minds informed and driven by these eternal truths.
“…so that we would not be outwitted by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his designs.” 2 Corinthians 2:11
“But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” Galatians 5:15
“…so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of it.” Romans 12:5
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