The Pursuit of Unity and Peace

“How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” Ps 133:1.
 
“As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Ga 3:27–28.
 
Unity is something sorely lacking in our country these days. The divide in our country that has been growing for decades has now reached extremes. It seems that people now define themselves by how they differ rather than how they are the same. As a result, there is very little desire to look for common ground on either side of so many issues. The worst is often assumed of the person who holds different opinions, and extreme rhetoric just makes it worse.
 
The technological advances that allow someone to post his or her thoughts to the world in a moments notice has removed the filter of time that in the past allowed someone to cool down and reflect on the consequences of one’s words. It truly feels like we are living through a war of ideology, and the casualties are civility, understanding, and decency.
I understand, in a way I never have before, the words of the Psalmist who wrote: “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” Ps 133:1. I understand it, because I know how very awful and bad it feels as we live in this time of disunity and division.
 
How are we as Christians to engage this world that is in such turmoil?
I think the answer is to live out our faith in the ways that Jesus modeled:
He loved the unlovable; He forgave those who felt they were unforgivable and those who sought to do him harm; He did not condemn but brought understanding; and he saw the potential in a life turned to God. We all would do well to follow his path by working to understand, love, and forgive all of those in our lives who differ from us. We also would benefit by looking for the common ground we share in Christ.
 
Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians that the divisions people often focus on cease to matter because of Christ. When we focus on Jesus, his message, and his mission, we are able to put aside human divisions and become united in purpose and community. I am so proud of how our church focuses on the person of Jesus and the mission He has given us despite our human differences. I know for a fact that people in our congregation are on different sides of many political and social issues, but we join together each week in worship of God, in love for one another, and in mission to the world. This is a beautiful thing.
 
Finally, I would say that one antidote to the division we see in this world is to strive to live the words of Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
This is my prayer.
 
Grace and peace to each of you.
Your friend and pastor,
Pastor Lee