One Spirit and Purpose

Here we go again. I recommend any Facebook users to stay away for the next few days because the political banter is getting nasty, even amongst fellow believers. I’ve seen people on both sides throwing Scripture in each other’s faces like to prove their points on the health care issue. Just watch as this issue continues to divide churches, denominations and the country because “good Christian people” continue to resort to means of slander, gossip and anger. We’ll probably see 7 new Baptist churches get formed in the next few weeks (at least 3 of which will be in Central Texas) because people will leave over this issue.

I’m not trying to be pessimistic, but in my short lifetime I’ve seen the Church splinter more times than I can even count. Just off the top of my head I can think of issues such as abortion, homosexuality, Walt Disney boycotts, how to reach out to the sex industry in America, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Mexico border, and now health care as issues that have caused division amongst believers. I am not naïve enough to think that there should never be disagreement. In fact, you show me a couple that has never argued and I will show you a relationship that is extremely shallow. However, I see a perpetual cycle of fear gripping far too many followers of Christ, which is usually spawned by a decision the government makes.

So many Christians have bought into the idea that government can save and redeem us. Now we wouldn’t admit this out loud, but we practically believe it. This is why we hear cries to return to being a “Christian nation” in times of disagreement and unrest. We so quickly forget Paul’s words written to Christians living in a pagan nation when he says, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.” (Romans 13:1–3 NIV)

I do not believe that pacifism is the answer to all of our problems. Nor do I believe you should sit on the sidelines and keep your opinion to yourself. But, my question to you is why do you allow earthly circumstances to constantly produce fear within you? Do you take seriously 1 Peter 4:12-19? Do you truly believe that God has committed you as His follower to the ministry of reconciliation and not of division (2 Corinthians 5:19)? Why do we also so quickly forget that we are to have one glorious obsession, and that is Jesus Christ?

My vocation is to be a preacher, but no one wants a sermon on this issue right now. It’s too new and still extremely sensitive. So I will stop and pray that God will make His Church once again concerned with the ministry of reconciliation (which is part of our calling and “purpose” if you read 2 Corinthians correctly). I will also put forth Scripture and will ask you to sit with it as you respond to this “health care crisis.”

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:1–4 NIV)

4 thoughts on “One Spirit and Purpose”

  1. Living in a country where there is NO healthcare, it is hard for me to grasp that the US church would actually split over this issue. I live in a country knowing that if one of my family becomes seriously ill, or my husband has a heart attack, there is NO place to go. I live in a country where there are people afflicted with elephantiasis, disfigured lepers, war crippled, and the tumor ridden lie on the side of the road. Can we not get a different perpsective on the privileged life Americans lead? Didn’t Christ prepare for His own death praying that we would be united as one, just as He and the Father are one? (Jn 17:11)

  2. After reading this yesterday and again this morning, I must respectfully disagree with a few of these assumptions. I have seen opinions on Facebook for sure, but this article is the first I have seen of “scripture throwing.”

    My offense is taken when you say that Christians have bought into the idea that government can save and redeem us. Quite the opposite is true for me and my family. We would just prefer that the government provided for the national defense and not much else. I actually have little to no faith in our government or any government for that matter.

    Healthcare is a heated issue where it is only natural that people will disagree – even Christians – but just because I hold an opinion, I do not wish to be lumped into a category as a “scripture thrower,” “church splitter,” (which I doubt would happen over this anyway) or “depending on government” in any way. Christ is my portion and always will be.

  3. I respectully agree with the premise of the blog. I respectfully disagree that this blog is full of “scripture throwing.” If we refuse to look to scripture for the answers, aren’t we saying that we or someone else knows better? Aren’t we saying that we’ll rely on others or the government for solutions to our problems? It is absolutely true that issues such as abortion, homosexuality, war, and health care create divisions not only within specific churches but within the greater Church itself. Why do you think that Sunday morning at 11:00 is the most segregated hour in America? It’s because on a subconscious level we prefer to worship with people who look like us, dress like us, and think like us both spiritually and politically. Some people enjoy churches that openly espouse political opinions from the pulpit, even though a lot of the time there is no scriptural evidence to support their opinions. Others don’t like this practice. So what happens? People leave churches. They start new churches. Or even worse, they leave the church for good. I agree with Brady. We should have opinions, and it’s okay to disagree. We should “fight” for what we believe. But we should do it respectfully, peacefully, and without malevolence. Don’t put malicious posts on Facebook or Twitter. Don’t resort to name calling. As Christians, we are challenged to be in this world but not of it. We are supposed to be the light in a world full of darkness. What if we gave all of these issue to God and his will? What if instead of expending all of our energy on issues where we disagree, we united on the issues that should matter: Loving God; Loving others; Helping the poor; Fighting for justice. What a difference we could make!

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