In my previous post I attempted to make clear the truth that every person who has put their faith in Jesus Christ has been reconciled to every other believer. We are all one in “the body of Christ,” “the new man,” the church universal. I asked the question, “So why don’t we behave that way?”
The world – human kind – outside of Christ, has found infinite ways to divide itself, to continue in that alienation. And we should not be surprised.
If we turn on our daily TV news, we see this alienation acting itself out in wars, in terrorism, in hateful speech, not only in foreign lands; but also here in America. If we glance back at history, even American history, we see the same thing. People divide themselves over political issues, over race, ethnicity, religion and nationalism.
But it should not be so in the body of Christ, the church. We have been reconciled. This is what the old-time dispensational preachers called “positional truth.” It is true in the mind of God and will someday be lived out in the coming kingdom. But why isn’t it lived out now?
In fact, Christians have many more ways to divide themselves that the unbelieving world hasn’t even thought of! We divide over minutia of biblical interpretation and doctrine and over various practices that are seen as ethical. I’m not saying that the things we divide over are necessarily unimportant. It’s just that their importance is often greatly exaggerated and becomes an excuse for hostility. We often carry a sort of “righteous indignation” toward those with whom we differ, making no distinction between unbelievers and our follow believers.
And we carry our righteous indignation into other areas, such as the political. Those who differ are seen as unchristian. It is assumed that everyone who is a Christian holds a certain political view and those who differ obviously are not Christians (or are worldly or unspiritual or immature or at least uninformed).
Brothers, it ought not to be this way! We, who know Christ, should be an example of the reconciliation and unity that is ours. Jesus told the eleven on the evening before He went to the cross, “A new commandment I’m giving to you – that you love one another, even as I loved you, that you also love one another. In this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among each other” (John 13:34, 35).
Perhaps the world is looking at us to see what disciples of Christ look like. Do they see people who are living out this command? Or do they simply see an image of themselves?
Our task is to carry the message of reconciliation to an unreconciled world. Paul says, “God has placed in us the message of reconciliation … as though God were urging through us, ‘we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God’” (2 Corinthians 5:19, 20). It seems that if they are to accept that message, they need to see it lived out in our lives.