Focusing on our common bonds in Christ

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Christians have worked for 500 years to break up and diminish the Body of Christ.

From the wars of Reformation and Counter-Reformation to centuries of hatred, persecution and misunderstanding between our various (and many) denominations, Christianity over the last half-millennium has struggled to be a cohesive faith with a unified message.

We’ve made great strides over the last several decades in overcoming these old animosities.

Roman Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox and some Protestant churches have reopened dialogue in a spirit of love and compassion, allowing Christ to overcome worldly differences of doctrine and liturgy, and to heal old self-inflicted wounds.

But, even as ecumenical rapprochement flourishes on the world stage, in America we’ve devised new ways to tear asunder the Body of Christ.

In short, we are allowing the toxic nature of American politics to tear apart the church.

Our politics drift ever further to the extremes, and in our vain desire to be the only one “right,” we try to drag faith along with us.

This sentiment runs rampant: “If you don’t share my political views, you don’t share my faith.”

We’ve convinced ourselves that someone of the opposing party not only must be wrong in their politics, they also must be outside the body of faith.

This heresy spans both ends of the political spectrum. Some liberals claim you can’t possibly support Donald Trump and also be a Christian. Some conservatives claim progressives are closet atheists, and that you can’t be both liberal and Christian.

And, we drag out Scripture to justify our biases and animosities.

If we like a president, we tout Romans 13:1: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.”

If we dislike a president, we slap on a bumper sticker from Psalm 109:8: “May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership.” Or, you may favor a meme from Acts 5:29: “We must obey God rather than human beings!”

We would do well, in our dealings with each other on matters of faith, to heed Paul’s advice in Titus 3:9: “But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.”

We should care about politics and policy.

But, no difference of opinion on politics is more important than what unites us: the redeeming grace and love of Jesus Christ, and our common commission to spread the Gospel.

The Kingdom of God will not be built by one party or another. It will not be built by one nation or another.

The Kingdom of God will be built by those who place the Gospel above party and nation, and who love Christ more than any worldly possession or title.

We may differ on many things, but if we’re to inhabit the Kingdom, our bonds in Christ must be stronger than any forces seeking to divide us.

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