Paul writes that when we follow Jesus there’s no real difference between being Jewish or Greek, slave or free, male or female, circumcised, uncircumcised, barbarian, or uncivilized (1 Corinthians 1:10). Stop to think about this, to really contemplate the ramifications. He tells us to break down all divisions over ethnicity, social status, gender, and religious practices.
Paul wants us to function as one and live in unity. In the same way Jesus wants us to live as one, just as he and his Father exist as one (John 17:21).
Today we need to apply this vision for unity to the church Jesus started. We need to add that when we follow Jesus there’s no real difference between being Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant; Mainline, Evangelical, or Charismatic.
But to our shame we divide Jesus’s church. We live in disharmony. We fight with each other over our traditions and our practices and how we comprehend God. We spar over worship style, song selection, and a myriad of other things that relate to church practices and right living. Or to avoid these errors we simply ignore one another, and that’s almost as bad.
But the world is watching, and they judge Jesus through our actions. They test what we say by the things we do. And we fail their test.
With our words we talk about how Jesus loves everyone and with our deeds we diminish our brothers and sisters in Jesus with a holier-than-thou discord. If we can’t love those in the church, how can we love those outside the church?
It’s no wonder the world no longer respects the church of Jesus and is quick to dismiss his followers. We bring it upon ourselves with our church splits and 42,000 Protestant denominations, with our petty arguments over practices and theology and everything in between.
But with a couple billion Christians, mostly living life contrary to God’s will by not getting along with each other, what can you and I do to truly make a difference?
We can change this one person at a time. Find another Christian who goes to a church radically different than yours (or who has dropped out of church) and embrace them as one in Christ.
If you are a mainline Christian, find a charismatic follower of Jesus and get to know him or her. If all your friends are evangelicals, go to Mass and make some new friends. If all the Christians you know look just like you, find some who look differently. Diversify your Christian relationships to expand your understanding of what following Jesus truly looks like.
It’s time we embrace one another. The whole world is watching.
How can we live out Paul’s command to break down our divisions? What is the biggest obstacle to us living in the unity Jesus prayed for? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.