“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”John 13:34-35
In this age of texts, emails, Covid, social distancing, online shopping, GrubHub, “contactless” delivery, social media, and “virtual” everything, one of my favorite things to do is to sit down somewhere with an actual person (or two, or more), share a meal or a cup of coffee, and just talk for an hour or so.
People; handshakes; hugs; human contact; communication; encouragement; sharing ideas; banter; community. Embracing the most essential reason for our creation as beings made in the image of God.
If I had to identify just one thing to blame for our current social malaise – the polarization, the mistrust, and the festering anger – I would have to finger isolation.
Another contributing and related factor is the egregious sin of factionalism that I mentioned in Sunday’s post this past weekend. And not just factions, but the lengths we go to in terms of creating them.
How to create factions:
- “Well it doesn’t matter if you identify as Christian, are you Christian enough?”
- “Maybe it says ‘US Citizen’ on your passport, but are you the right kind of American?”
- Or let’s just bring the two together and qualify your Christianity by your Americanism? “Do you believe in America? Because if you don’t fly the stars and stripes in your sanctuary then we’re not sure you’re the right kind of Christian.”
Jesus may have said, “It is going to be clear to the world that you are my followers when people see how you love one another…” but I hear a lot of religious people suggesting that Jesus was just too open-minded; so now people have to check off all the items on their list too, or maybe they don’t want you as a member their club.
So we have isolation, and social distance, and a lack of community, and then let’s create some new lines of demarkation to make sure our particular echo chamber is more soundproof. Because God forbid we listen to one another and possibly learn! The winsome invitation of Jesus to follow him is just that; your political leanings are something else entirely. Please don’t forge Jesus’ name and then attach it to your party’s platform.
Just to be clear, I am likely just as wrong as anyone else when it comes to, well, just about everything. Let’s not exclude one another from conversation by requiring one more litmus test.
Jesus showed us how to live, and instructed us to love one another with mercy and grace. Jesus said, “I am the gate” (John 10:7-10). So let’s not be like the Pharisees, who – as Jesus pointed out – keep slamming the gate shut in the faces of those who want to know God (Matthew 23).
As my good friend Inigo Montoya (may have possibly) said, “You keep using the word ‘Christian’. I do not think it means what you think it means.” – DEREK