Heal the Divide 3: Up for debate?

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I don’t often listen to Christian radio talk shows. In fact, I try to avoid them. They’re usually filled with illogical, politically misleading, and theologically inaccurate commentary. Once in a while I’ll find myself scanning the radio and stopping on a show that peaks my interest.

Shortly after the election, I found myself listening to one of these shows. I fully expected to get a pro Trump, Republican, Evangelical earful. Surprisingly, that’s not what I heard at all. The show was called, “Up For Debate.” That mornings topic of conversation was, “Should Christians Break Fellowship over the LGBT Issue?”

Now that by itself was an interesting discussion, but that’s not what peaked my interest. Near the end of the show the host, Julie Roys, started talking about the division within the church. She wasn’t talking about the LGBT issue at all. She was talking about race and the election. She pointed out some troubling statistics about the election.

If you’ve paid any attention to the news, you are fully aware that Donald Trump received very few votes from minority voters. What Julie pointed out was that the numbers among Christian voters was pretty much the same. Many of our white brothers and sisters found religious comfort in casting their ballot for Donald Trump, while many of our non white brothers and sisters feared and trembled.

Now, we can have a long drawn out discussion about whether that fear was rational or not. Many argue that the media blew Trumps comments out of proportion. Many argue that the President doesn’t hold the powers or authority to carry out anything against minorities. While those arguments may have some truth to them, so do the fears on the other side. Those so called minorities in this country heard our President elect say some very thoughtless and even scary things. They now have to live with the results of that election in a way that we whites can’t comprehend.

 

The Fear is Real

To bring this point to light, Roys brought on a Pastor from a Chicago congregation. This pastor was Hispanic and he ministered to a Hispanic community. He began to talk about the concern that those in his congregation were feeling. I could hear his voice swelling up as he tried to fight back tears. He began telling stories of people he knows and the fears they have.

You could hear his heart breaking for them. His concern was for them, but also for the rest of the church. He was also concerned about the part of the church that didn’t hear their voices and their fears. He was concerned about the part of the church that willfully sat in ignorance to the fact that the facts don’t always matter.

Sure, you can pull up news articles, blog posts, and YoutTube videos to prove one point or another, but none of that matters here. There is a real fear out there. There is a real concern in the church. Our brothers and sisters need comforted and we come at them with arguments and debates.

What Julie was pointing out in this show was that there is a divide in the church. Not simply because we have different skin color or because we voted different ways. There is a growing number within the church that is ignoring the real concerns of another part of the church.

This isn’t only true in the church. This is true in our world as well. We, as the church, are supposed to lead this world to Christ through our example. Instead we are simply mimicking what our culture is doing and how they are acting.

 

History Repeats

Unfortunately this isn’t the first time that the church has felt this division. In the book of Acts we see a short comment about a similar situation.

Acts 6:1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.

 

Now this doesn’t seem the exact same. I meant, after all, white Christians aren’t intentionally and actively withholding food and supplies from non white’s. However, it is the same attitude. Regardless of our race, culture, or social status we all believe that our needs and our concerns are more valuable and more important than others. This is what fuels political debate.

We may not be actively withholding food, but we are showing the same lack of concern. Is it possible that the Greek Christians knew about the need, but for some reason believed that that they new better how to deal with the food? Is it possible that they heard the complaints, but felt that they were unfounded? Is it possible that we are guilty of the exact same attitude?

I know that some of you are reading this and saying, “finally someone who gets it.” Others are reading and thinking, “that’s not me.” I want to ask, are you sure? Are you sure that’s not you? Are you sure that you’re not part of the problem?

If you say that you’re not, I have a follow up. Are you helping at all?

Are you one standing up for those who are being marginalized in our society and in our churches? Are you saying with the apostle Paul that we won’t permit division within the church because in God’s eyes there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free? We are all one in Christ Jesus and when one of us hurts, it is the duty of the others to provide support and comfort. You may not agree. You may never agree, but you must love and support.

If you have read the Bible, then you know that St. Paul did not tolerate divisions within the church. He didn’t because Jesus didn’t. Paul knew the heart of Christ was one that unified. He knew that the blood of Christ washed over and erased any division.

This is how we are supposed to be known. We are not supposed to be known by the things that divide us. We are to be known by our love for each other. Before He was crucified, Jesus told His disciples that they world would know that they were His by their love for one another. That is it, nothing else.

Our unity must be so strong, so radical, and so bold that it is the first thing that others notice. Through that bold unity, we can lead the rest of our country and the rest of the world. Unfortunately we have a lot of ground to cover. This election didn’t cause any of that. It merely shed some more light on it, and I’m grateful for that. We have the opportunity to change and to lead. Let’s take it now while we still can.

 

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