We are divided.
Politics divides us. Republicans vs. Democrats. Conservatives vs. Liberals.
Economics divides us. Rich vs. Poor. Capitalists vs. Socialists. The 400 richest people in our country hold more of the wealth than the bottom 15 MILLION.
Gender divides us. Men vs. Women. Pay disparity. Anything you can do, I can do better.
Race divides us. Black vs. White. Privilege vs. Disenfranchisement.
Religion divides us. God vs. Science. Christianity vs. Atheism. Within evangelism there are at least 131 separate denominations.
We are divided.
My feeling on this is, at some level, we are all part of the problem. The reason I say that is because it has to be true. You can’t be right all of the time, but neither can I. Yet, we live in a society where everybody thinks they are right 100% of the time so there is no listening to anyone else. There is no meeting halfway. Frankly, it is frustrating.
I have spent the last week appalled, frustrated, confused. I have expressed that in different ways and I have done my best to reach out to my friends who are experiencing life in a different way than I am because of the color of their skin. I want to understand and I want to be part of the solution.
So I will stop and listen. I will speak less and hear more. I will quit saying cliched quips to make me feel better about my position in life.
BUT MOST OF ALL – I WILL REMEMBER THAT THE ONLY ANSWER FOR WHAT DIVIDES IS THE GOSPEL.
It occurred to me in my time of prayer and study in the book of Colossians, which I have been teaching through for nine weeks now, that when the gospel of Jesus changes your life, IT CHANGES YOUR WHOLE LIFE. The gospel affects everything. The change is not compartmentalized. The change is complete.
12 Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. 14 Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity.
The gospel displays HEARTFELT COMPASSION. The idea here literally means that we are to “feel the slightest touch of another person’s misery.” Have you been changed the gospel? Then you feel the hurts of others.
The gospel marks us with KINDNESS. It is the kindness of God that leads us to Himself – to repentance. If that is the case, how do we NOT show kindness to others?
The gospel makes us HUMBLE. When I started this, I said the reason we are divided is because we always think we are right. That is pride. We are called to be humble. And hey, even if you think or even know you are right, what does it hurt you to listen and act humbly toward someone who thinks differently?
For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.
The gospel brings out GENTLENESS. Translated in the Greek, this word means “a healing medicine or a soothing wind.” It is power under control. The gospel gives us the opportunity to make a violent wind a calming one or a sickness better simply by our gentleness.
The gospel encourages PATIENCE. This word quite literally means “long-tempered.” A short-tempered person speaks and acts impulsively and lacks self-control. How patient are you?
The gospel is about ACCEPTANCE. This is the ACTION of GRACE. God demonstrates this to us when he accepts us as sinners. He holds back judgment and extends grace. I’m not saying accept sin or sinful behavior, but we must see EVERY person we know or come in contact with as someone who is worthy to know God’s grace. Before people know Christ they can’t “act right” so quit expecting them to and share Jesus with them!
The gospel extends FORGIVENESS. We must be willing to forgive those that wrong us. If God forgives us, then how can we withhold forgiveness? Forgiveness is a vital part of our witness.
The very definition of the gospel of Jesus is LOVE. This is the most important virtue we have as a follower of Jesus. Love ties all of these things above together. Every motivation stems from love.
NT Wright said, “The other virtues, pursued without love, become distorted and unbalanced.”
Love is what UNIFIES! Now this is not human love. Human love does not unify. Human love can not unify. Human love is selfish. The love that unifies is the love of Jesus. The love of the gospel. The love displayed on the cross.
THE GOSPEL OF JESUS IS THE ANSWER. IT IS GOOD NEWS QUITE LITERALLY! Don’t we need GOOD NEWS in this world? Don’t those who are hurting and feeling ostracized and marginalized and targets need GOOD NEWS?
How dare we as Christians make taking sides or being right more important than sharing the love and grace and kindness and gentleness of the gospel to a world that is quite literally crying out for answers. WE HAVE THE ANSWER! HIS NAME IS JESUS!
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