Why can't we all Just Get Along?
Sunday, Pastor Jake Thurston shared with us about how Christians are annoying to the world because we can't seem to get along with each other. From the very beginning, starting with Cain and Able, it seems God's people have been at each other's throats. Under the guise of "protecting theological integrity" or "guarding doctrinal purity", many well meaning Christians have gone on the offensive, wielding their stances like a machete in the jungle. Unfortunately, this mentality has led to a pretty terrible stereotype amongst those who don't believe.
The end result is that, once again, Christians are known for something other than what Jesus wants us to be known for. Not only are we hypocritical and judgmental of those who don't believe, we can't even get along with each other. And let me tell you, it's really important we do.
In John 13, we read an account of Jesus where he is talking with his disciples about his upcoming crucifixion, and particularly the fact he will be leaving and they (the disciples) will be his representatives here on earth. In Jesus' mind, it's very important for them to represent him well. And so Jesus does something that he doesn't do a lot. He makes a rule. When Jesus calls something a command, it's important. This is exactly what he does with the disciples in John 13:34-35.
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35 NLT)
Did you hear it? Your love for one another will prove to the world you are my disciples. We are to be known by this love. In a world that doesn't believe in Jesus and is looking for some proof before they will ever consider it, Jesus says the greatest proof would be if we could just get along! The world knows as believers we all have different conclusions about scripture and we don't see eye to eye on everything. But instead of seeing a body of believers who love one another despite our differences, far too often, the world sees a church divided on issues that, frankly, don't matter in the spectrum of eternity. And this division within the church is in a way responsible for a world that doesn't want anything to do with us or with Jesus.
Let me say that more plainly. The world doesn't believe in Jesus, and it's partly our fault.
There is enough division in the world as it is. Now, if from the outside looking in, I saw a group of people who loved despite their differences and faults, that would be something. If I looked in and saw people on both sides of the political aisle more unified by Jesus than they are divided by their political stance, that would be something. If I looked into the church from the outside and saw love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control...wow. I would be intrigued.
Church, why can't we just get along? Here's my challenge: Let's try. Let's choose grace. Let's choose love. Let's prove to the world Jesus is real and we are his disciples.