"I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment." - 1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)
In my entire 26 years of life, I have never experienced a division in the church like I am experiencing now. There is no unity at all, except for the fact that everyone is united in fear. From what I am seeing, there are two groups of people. On one side of the spectrum, there are people who are fearful that freedoms are being taken from them because of the stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus. They are angry that they can't go back to work, support their families, and make an income. They are afraid that more freedoms will be taken away as things continue to progress.
On the other side of the spectrum, there are those who are afraid that they or their loved ones are going to contract the virus. They believe the stay-at-home orders are necessary for everyone's well being. They feel that certain individuals are being flippant and could possibly hurt the people around them.
Today, I was on an online meeting with some of our church members. As we began discussing plans of when to reopen our church to the public, an argument broke out. Several voices began raising, and a few people began taking sides. Now, I want you to understand something about this argument: I have never experienced our church members arguing with each other. For the most part, we are pretty unified. So after this argument broke out, I realized there was a deeper core issue.
Now, trust me, I am no holier than anyone else. I was about to add my own two cents to that aforementioned argument. But before I got a chance to open my mouth and spew my own opinion, someone (thankfully!) broke up the fight with some encouraging words. That is what made me realize that there is a heart problem with me just as much as anyone else. I became convicted.
Later on, I looked up some verses about unity. In one of them, Paul pleads with the Corinthians, "I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment." - 1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)
The Bible commands us as Christians to live in unity with each other. I cannot emphasize that enough. If we can't live in unity with each other now, how can we even begin to expect non-believers to live in unity with us? If we can't respect our brothers' and sisters' opinions now, how can we possibly begin to respect those who aren't Christians?? Is the church called to squabble about non-essential things, or is the church called to shine the light and show others that we are united? Are we supposed to cave into our own fears, pointing fingers at each other, and taking sides, or are we supposed to live courageously and fearlessly, praying together as a body of Christ?
Friends, we need to be better than this. The devil will use anything he can to make fools of the church. He uses all the tactics in his book to drive a wedge between the church and unbelievers, so that we will be ineffective in reaching more people for Christ. He knows the power of a united church, and he hates it. It's is the last thing he wants. He wants us to be divided. As Jesus says in Matthew 12:25, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." The devil knows this better than anyone and wants the church to fall.
In conclusion, we as Christians need to pray first and foremost for unity in our own churches. (I know for a fact that my church is not the only church struggling with unity during this time.) As part of this prayer, we also need to pray not just for others to get better, but for ourselves to continue to respect other people's opinions during this volatile time. After all, we are called to shine our lights. What better way to do that than by joining together as believers in unity as the body of Christ? (Even if it is over Zoom.)
1 Peter 2: 17[a]: "Respect everyone, and love the family of believers." (NLT)
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for being patient with me time and time again. I ask that You help this country and our churches to be united. I ask that You also help me to be more respectful of others and loving of my family of believers. I know that the devil uses times like this to divide us. Crush his evil plan, because You are far more powerful. In Jesus's name,