"Love, friendship and respect do not unite people
as much as a common hatred for something."
~ Anton P Chekhov
Why do Christians fight amongst themselves?
... insult and condemn each other with such hatred?
from Susan Isaacs
Every four years, vicious infighting occurs within Republicans and Democratic parties during the presidential primaries. The moment their respective candidates are chosen, parties band together against a new "enemy." As soon as a president is elected, he'll call for unity against the nation's true enemies: foreign attack, domestic trouble, federal bureaucracy.
Divisions exist unless individuals lay down personal agenda for the sake of the common good.
In time of crisis, people band together for survival. Throughout history, leaders have rallied people to unite in working for a common goal, especially when people feel oppressed by circumstance. But in time of relative comfort and security, people are less motivated toward the self sacrifice required for singleness of mind and purpose.
Around the globe, those who serve, love, and live for Jesus Christ suffer various degrees of persecution. In nations where they are targeted most violently, they closely unite for survival. In places like the United States, we can afford the luxury of disagreement—and we indulge in it.
Unity requires active self-sacrifice and purposeful relationship-building. Human nature desires indulgence not sacrifice. To overcome division is to overcome human nature, and requires powerful motivation. As Chekhov observes, hatred is a powerful motivation.
Christians have far greater power and motivation in Jesus Christ.
Once we are reconciled to God through His Son Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives in us and gives us enough power to vanquish division for the sake of God's Gospel and glory. He doesn't give us enough power to stand alone, because that would work against the Gospel's message of love. Ironically, the more we learn about being a Christian, the more sufficient we may start to feel, and the less we may think we need one another.
But each individual is a treasure, with unique talents, skills and perspectives to benefit us all. Every single person is valuable and needed. Those the world might write off as dead weight actually give us strength.
Unless Christians narrowly define core beliefs which unite us and broadly define all else as peripheral, we become as divisive and impotent as politicians.
For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body ... Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be... Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable ... There should be no division in the body, but ... equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
1 Corinthians 12:13-27 (NIV)
© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
Image source: digicynic.wordpress.com