“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Ephesians 4:3

 

A fallen Celtic cross cracked at the base.On Tuesday, November 8, 2016 the United States elected Donald Trump to be the 45th President of the United States. His election was immediately followed by the tanking of the stock market, which quickly stabilized and even reached record highs. However, what still remains is a deeply divided country where each side is asking, “How did we get here?”

The political elites are evaluating this new reality; conservatives and “the establishment” are stunned; and Democrats are viewing the autopsy of a failed election cycle. I wonder though if we, the church, will be introspective in light of the election results. With 80 percent of white evangelicals voting for Donald Trump, while most ethnic Christians voted against him (as opposed to for Hillary Clinton), it is clear that the church is deeply divided in its political convictions if not its fellowship in Christ. Furthermore, as this election bore us very little policy discussion by either major party candidate, the questions of character and identity were thrust to the forefront. Yes, the country is divided, but equally as true are the age-old schisms that characterize aspects of the church.

Who are we as the church? What are our expectations of our world leaders? What do we want? I would strongly assert that most Christians want a world that acknowledges God, a place where everyone from all walks of life can experience redemption, freedom, and their best life here on earth. These are true, notable, and God-given desires. However, the church has been guilty of placing the onus on governments and world leaders to show us the way. The truth is that WE, the body of Christ, were meant to lead the reforming and redemption efforts of the world…and we were called to lead by example instead of solely relying on rhetoric. How can we be a model of freedom and equality to the world when sexism, racism, and classism infect the church as well as the culture? How can we place blame on corrupt worldly systems, when there is an absence of a unified church that compels systematic change by our success instead of our diverse (and in some cases perverse) motives?

This election cycle has provided us with an opportunity to evaluate the questions of church identity and church functionality in this world. Will we remain divided because we would rather embrace silence instead of engaging in the hard work of unity? Is our political power and acceptance more important than the complete works of salvation, redemption, and restoration? Is silence the price of church membership and genuine acceptance for the marginalized, diverse, and discouraged?

I know that I have asked a bunch of tough questions…and I don’t intend to provide the answers. The facts upon which our answers must be based are as follows: (1) The body of Christ was built to lead the world in salvation, deliverance, freedom, and restoration. (2) The church does its most effective work when we are unified; and (3) Unity is a hard task that requires commitment and authentic conversation geared towards eventual reconciliation. It requires a commitment to empathy and understanding, as well as speaking the truth in love. Yes, the church is deeply divided and as a result our effectiveness has been limited. However, we do not have to remain in this state. We have been built to do better and will be afforded the grace to work towards better. The question is, Will we “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace?”

PRAYER:

God, we collectively stand as your representative in the earth. Everything you make is holy and powerful, including the church. Thank you for the awesome privilege to be part of your church that includes all nations, tribes, and tongues. We desperately need your grace to preserve the unity that you require of us. Teach us how to love. Teach us how to forgive. Teach us how to listen. Teach us how to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Give us strength to walk daily toward the reconciling and restoring work of Christ Jesus, until we become the fullness of what you envisioned when you established the church. Thine is still the Kingdom, the power, and glory. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: God’s Grand Plan: A Practical Guide (Ephesians 4:1–6:24)
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7 Responses to Seeking Unity as a Divided Church

  1. Daniel Rodriguez says:

    Well written, except for the side note that ethnic Christian’s didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton but against Donald Trump. That was an unnecessary and I believe inaccurate opinion. As an ethnic Christian I snd many of my kinfolk stood with Mrs Clinton. In addition your comment brings additional divisiveness and hurt to and already divisive situation.

  2. Corena says:

    Just like people voted against Trump people voted against Hillary. I know we can be like an ostrich and hide our heads in the sand or talk about this and realize that in the end followers of Jesus Christ want God to lead us. I do think we have an obligation and a chance to unify and lead others to JESUS. But that needs to start in our local churches who are not transparent and are legalistic and yes have a class and caste system. I have to yet find a church whose leaders and people walk the way my Jesus did. Now that says something!

  3. Mike says:

    I believe both comments miss the main point of this post. And this is the case with most discussions about this recent election. The real problem is not that one voted one way or the other but that our system came up with such poor choices in the first place! But the central point in the post can be found when we read ” …the church has been guilty of placing the onus on governments and world leaders to show us the way. The truth is that WE, the body of Christ, were meant to lead the reforming and redemption efforts of the world …” If the people in our churches in the US had been living out biblically consistent, Christ and neighbor centered lives then the government would never have felt the need to become involved so deeply in social programs that have done so little to lift people out of poverty. It was the adoption of the surrounding cultural norms (consumerism, me-ism, narcissism)that did so much harm to the churches witness and we are now paying the price. We, the church, have been transforming NOTHING but have instead allowed ourselves to squeezed into the mold of the culture that surrounds us and tells us to get for ourselves all we can while we can

  4. Harold Crawford says:

    As a born again Christian for 70 years, we needed to be sure our candidate will put conservatives on the Supreme Court to stop this move against God we have seen the past Eight years. Kagan and Ginnsburg want us to
    Sharia law which would supersede our constitution. Hilary said she wants all the world to have open borders and wants to increase Syrian refugees 500% more than Obama and many other problems. After supporting the Republican establishment for 70 years I voted for Trump to “break” that up and see the Democratic machine broken up also. Plus the democratic secularists have tied our Chaplins hands of doing their job. We needed to vote to keep our Christian values. How is this for starters?

  5. Nancy Nauman says:

    Jesus unites. Religion divides. When we forget it’s all about Jesus – the prince of the world creates discord, hate and chaos. The world needs to know Jesus..and if our words and actions aren’t all about Him people – those who don’t know Him are repulsed and will turn to embrace another god.

  6. Susan says:

    olease if you are a church leader donthe very hard business of leading the way and have real conversations with real people about their real problems. Have those christians who votes for Hillary explain how they reconcile her pro abortion stance as a Christian . Ask those who voted for trump explain how they support a sexual
    Predator by his own confession. Neither candidate represents the God of the Bible because only the church has that function.

  7. Tortoise says:

    Look, I do not consider myself a Christian per se, but I do believe in Jesus and I come here often for inspiration because what you have here applies in our daily work in so many ways. I could write an essay on this topic, but I know I’m limited in space here. I find the partisan and denominational arguments ugly. Dialogue and pointed questions can only do so much, and sometimes create division rather than unity. My pastor is a flaming liberal and I am a conservative, but one thing we agree on is that the mission of the Church is to bring unity not only within the Church but to all people. The only way to do that is to love and serve. I might be naive in thinking this, but I think if we can work together to do that across the walls of the Church and across the walls of religions, we can bring unity and understanding, not only within the diverse Christian community but to the world at large. Wouldn’t Jesus want us to do that as the body of Christ? At the end of the day, isn’t that what our High Calling is all about?