Enemies of one another- eventually
The last few years have been chaotic, and the chaos has either enhanced division or exposed what was already there. I'm not here to figure out which of those two brought this about but instead address where we are.
Sadly, many Biblical truths are first filtered through political or social lenses and attributed to a "stance" that a church holds instead of a truth God's Word calls us to. I've been heavily burdened with this as I pastor my church, calling us to hold fast to the confidence that what God says about ____________ is our guide, not our own opinions or perspective. At the same time, communicating with a group of people with many different experiences and perspectives reminds me that my best intentions can be misunderstood. Opportunities for division ARE going to happen. People ARE going to disagree. Frustrations ARE going to want to fracture the church.
In John 17, Jesus prays for UNITY just hours before his arrest and crucifixion. Just let that sink in... Of all the things he could pray about, he asks the Father to keep His followers in a heart of unity and love, in such an extreme way that the witness of our unity would be something that motivates the world to follow Christ. We must realize that this prayer has an assumption of impossibility without God's intervention, without an unabandoned commitment to keeping Jesus' love as the guide to how we interact. Jesus would not need to pray for this if he thought it was achievable without God's strength.
One of the biggest reminders I need when disagreements or dislikes arise and my heart wants to make "them" the enemy is to keep in mind there is an actual enemy:
"Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)
Yes, there is an enemy. Yes, you can be frustrated with the situation. Yes, you can disagree. BUT keep in mind WHO the enemy is and WHAT his motivation is. Often the outcome of a disagreement is a win for the devil. When we let frustrations fracture the church, the devil devours.
Knowing that division, disagreement, and frustration are tools the devil cultivates to disunify the church-creating enemies out of one another-we must be wise in how we process the tensions that will arise.
Check out this article that gives some tangible application on How We Stay Unified When We Disagree.