Jesus, in as much as He is the Author of peace, hope and joy, is also the Originator of division. Jesus draws a line in the sand and calls to us to step over—abandoning an old life. The problem many Christians face is trying to tote the things Jesus died to save and free us from with into a new journey; thereby making no measurable distinction between a life before or after coming into faith.
You have to ask yourself this question: "Has Jesus made a difference in me?"
The first followers of Christ, when making a profession of faith, made one of the most divisive decisions of their lives. The decision to follow Jesus equated to abandoning community and a life of observances and rituals. Their decision would lead to many being excommunicated from synagogues, losing jobs and relationships. Following Jesus created a great divide.
In our western culture, following Jesus is little more than a minor inconvenience. Perhaps we lost a few hours of sleep on a Sunday to go to church or maybe stay in bed and watch online. But overall the modern commitment to Christ brings little divide or separation from any quality of life. The question I have to ask myself is "Is Jesus an addition to my life or the entirety of my life?"
When I think of the division that Jesus brings—the "line in the sand"—I'm forced to confront the division within the church—masked versus unmasked; vaxxed versus unvaxxed; CRT; BLM. The issues rising up that have spurred debate and division; has there ever been a more easily offended and divided time in history as the time we live in? With issues spilling over like a fire hydrant, I have to ask why?
Perhaps the division is coming from a sense of mission. If we recognize that following Jesus does in fact bring division, perhaps we are experiencing the wrong type of divide. We are supposed to be holy and separate from the world but we have become wholly-separated from our brothers and sisters in the faith. In almost every instance and occasion of division, I seem to hear voices stating, "If you were a Christian" or, "If you loved your neighbor" statements that define what a believer should look or act like.
Then it finally hit me. We each are divided over our own definition of the kingdom of God. We have a perception of what a Christian looks and acts like. Suddenly it's become clear the divide in the church is not a division brought on by following Jesus; it's a division of definition. We have defined what the Christian life should look like and are holding that standard over others.
Perhaps we reset and reinvestigate that Jesus is far more for us than many of us are for ourselves. Perhaps we've created a burden of division never intended and, in pursuit of being separate from the world, have fallen for the trap of allowing world matters to divide us. It would seem that the unbelieving world is experiencing more unity than the Church of Jesus. It's time to step up into unity and with one voice proclaim, "I will not be divided from another believer over anything because our varying methods of demonstrating the kingdom converges at the cross of Jesus." And if God is for me, who am I to be against the one God is for? Jesus said it best: "Those who are not against me are for me."
Aaron Rios is a worship artist, author and pastor residing in New England with a contagious passion for encouraging, equipping and inspiring believers to pursue their kingdom destinies for the cause of Christ.
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