Jesus says unity of His followers will convince the world He is their Savior. Christians are quick to point out how divided America has become, yet what do we see when we look in the mirror? Has division within the body of Christ contributed to (or even caused) our culture’s polarization? Warring factions within our faith have battled for centuries over theology, morality, politics, and mission, fracturing into denominations, movements, parties, and parachurch ministries. More recently, but still preceding (or concurrent with) the divisiveness of America today, churches and their members have taken opposing positions on presidents, pandemics, progressivism, and preferences that invite splits and competition.
Not seeing our unity, which would have brought the nation together by recognizing Jesus in and through us, America has followed our lead and divided into firmly-entrenched stances for and against Christianity, with the latter crafting alternatives to biblical…
- Caring for distant members of our family, persecuted brothers and sisters overseas
- Building up one another, committed to personal discipleship
- Sharing the only cure for sin and separation from God with the terminally ill, training believers for evangelism
- Fighting the culture war via a ground attack of love and compassion at close proximity instead of an air attack dropping verbal bombs from a lofty height
- Showing genuine concern for the poor, whereas most churches organize occasional “outreach” events that don’t alleviate poverty and double as “advertising”
God is love and Christ gave us a script for paying His love forward. When we deviate (from that script), we divide. When we ignore the persecuted, it opens the door to persecution. When we judge, it exposes Christians to judgment. When we make church about loyalty to an institution, it breeds disloyalty to our Father. When churches become more self-centered (as a result of internally-focused, Invite/Involve/Invest growth models), Americans turn to Selfism. Rather than further compromising to adapt to an increasingly divided, self-absorbed nation (that Christians helped create), revival may come when persecution unites us around Scripture’s definition of (selfless, unconditional Agape) love.
Americans rejected our identity (as children of a loving Father) and made up their own (e.g. sexuality, gender) because Christians divided by reducing identity to a label (by birth) or allegiance to a particular church (or denomination), not united in:
- Introducing ourselves first and foremost as followers of Christ
- Practicing and not just professing faith through Bible study, prayer and other spiritual disciplines, reflecting a personal and growing relationship with Jesus
- Defining “church” inclusively, not as a place or pastors, but as each of us (and all of us) who have surrendered to the Lord
- Not answering questions about our “religion” by citing a denomination or church
- Humbling ourselves like children, not drawing attention away from Jesus
We should bond as sons and daughters of the same Father, not segment the body of Christ into cliques or foster an “us vs. them” mentality with non-believers. As we’ve formed Christian subgroups (implying superiority) and reserved God-given gifts for creating content (e.g. movies, music) only for Christian audiences, Americans have followed suit and became starkly divided for or against us. Rather than regressing further into division in response to today’s Post-Christian culture (that we inadvertently encouraged), all Christians should unite as the Father’s children in the shared mission of reaching the lost.
Americans rejected our mission and made up their own (e.g. tolerance, justice) because Christians are divided over the importance of reaching out to them through discipleship and evangelism, not united in:
- Realizing that churchgoers are not consumers but Kingdom employees who should be challenged to live prayer, care, and share lifestyles within their circles of influence
- Rejecting costly, attractional church models that distract and divert resources from biblical priorities of equipping and deploying disciples
- Subordinating institutional growth and member retention goals (addition) to personal growth and member footprint metrics (multiplication)
- Putting aside our “squabbles” as hostility mounts toward all Christians, developing a common sense of urgency, collaborating to seek community transformation
- Moving the needle collectively on social issues that are near and dear not only to the Lord’s heart (e.g. material poverty) but to Gen Z (e.g. social justice)
When churches differentiate from one another to stand out, we divide. When churches placate consumers who don’t reflect Christ between Sundays, they may come back next weekend but guarantee others will never darken our doors. When “Christians” don’t live on mission or conform to culture, their hypocrisy creates division within and outside the “4 walls”. Rather than accentuating distinctions between Christians or minimizing differences from the world to “fit in”, now is the time in this increasingly secular economic and political environment (which Christians fostered) to present a united front around the purpose and plan set out for all Christ-followers.
Americans rejected our moral code and made up their own (e.g. the pursuit of happiness) because Christians are divided over how to deal with sin inside and outside the church, not united in:
- Seeking righteousness over being “right” (self-righteousness)
- Confessing, not concealing, our sins and need for a Savior (so others can see theirs)
- Being known for Who we’re for instead of what we’re against
- Living one way on Sundays and much less like Jesus the rest of the week
- Adopting Jesus’ perspective on sin, not judging those who can’t be expected to follow the laws of the King when they’re not citizens of His Kingdom
Christians point fingers at society for virtue signaling, yet the practice originated with churchgoers claiming ownership of the moral high ground while unsuccessfully trying to hide sins. As we’ve disobeyed Matthew 18’s clear instructions to keep the church holy, our standards and accountability have diminished, undermining Christianity’s credibility. We shouldn’t be surprised or accusatory when witnessing the advent of America’s Age of Decadence. Rather than widening the divide with non-believers (which we unfortunately exacerbated) or splitting legalistic hairs with other Christians, we should unite in repentance and reconciliation, dying to self to demonstrate our humility and God’s forgiveness.
Americans rejected our perspectives on life and creation and made up their own (e.g. secular humanism) because Christians are divided in their degree of focus on worldly concerns, not united in:
- Aligning with politicians espousing Christians values and advocacy of public policy benefitting churches and ministries
- Understanding of human nature, whether it’s truly as evil as the Bible describes
- Believing that God has predetermined all things, but concluding that our potential impact is limited
- Engaging in popular causes like protecting the environment, working to eradicate poverty, and protesting injustice
Our varying opinions about the extent to which we should get involved in human affairs not only divides the body of Christ but makes non-believers question whether Christians care. As a result, society drifts from God and (since this world is all it has) becomes even more consumed with the issues churches and Christ-followers are accused of ignoring. Rather than being “so heavenly minded that we’re of no earthly good” (as the saying goes), we could close the gap with other believers and mitigate the cynicism of secular humanists (which Christians have stoked) by uniting around what is important to Jesus (e.g. people, not politics).
It’s Your Turn…
How much blame rests with the Church for America’s departure from its Christian roots? How would greater unity of our Father’s children around biblical love, identity, mission, morality, and worldview decrease division within our nation? Or will the response of Christ-followers to a more combative culture be further division within our ranks?