This morning, we woke up in the aftermath of the 2012 Election. After the billions that were spent in tearing down both President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney, we have a nation that looks much the same as it did when we woke up Tuesday morning. Our government is divided, and so is our country.
We have been divided for decades, but the division has become more pronounced in the past 12 years. After the 2000 election, Republicans and Democrats started to see each other not as partners but as the one’s opposing their vision for America. The discord that we have seen in Washington has affected us all. We have made it a habit of diving people based on whom they voted for instead of how they care for us. For instance, the person who voted for the other guy is no longer the same person who drives the school carpool and volunteers as your child’s soccer coach, but is the person who stands in the way of America being America again.
This has created discord and fragmentation among so many segments of our population. Our families are divided by whether we support the right candidate. We’ve lost friends over whom we voted for. Our churches have felt the string of losing members, because they perceive the church as “too liberal” or “too conservative” for their own taste.
The bitter angst that has defined our country is an irresponsible way of engaging the political process. I think we are better than that. I think we can be better than that. I think we can be united again.
To be united, I believe the church must take the lead in bringing our country together under a common vision and purpose. That common vision is to see each person as our neighbor and care for each other as such. Of course, as a Christian I believe our humanity and identity is shaped and informed by our relationship and commitment to Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. The church is uniquely equipped to tear down the walls that polarization has erected, and it comes out of our rededication to Paul’s words in Galatians 3:27-28.
And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus (NLT).
Paul reminds us that ministry of Jesus Christ was to tear down our walls of division. Jesus did not come to the world to solidify the walls of separation and difference, but to tear them down with a relational understanding that as we find our identity in Christ we will find our shared identity (that we are all God’s children) with each other.
However, we have too often forgotten our call to do this work. We have been more concerned with being aligned with our favorite political identities. We have thirsted after the world’s power. In some ways, the church must repent for its desires to claim political party and acceptance by the world’s leaders.
It is possible for the church to be a people who seek unity. We have to desire to be a place where we can have open and respectful dialogue. This means that we have to understand that our relationships are formed by our common identity and shared desire to grow in Christ’s likeness. The church can be the engine that helps the country being unified by a common idea as we are unified by a common desire. Our common desire must be God’s desires. This will only be discerned as we are teaching our people what it means to truly follow Christ and what it means to allow Christ to shape our entire lives.
Being a church that desires unity will look different in many parts of the country. It will be hard work. The divisions that exist in our country are not easily healed. While the work will be hard, the fruit will be rewarding.
The work to unifying our country begins today. Is the church ready for this work?