How to Build Bridges Instead of Walls- Reconnecting Divided Christians
November 16, 2020
The Modern Pilgrim #38- in which Pilgrim leaves travelers led astray by Pride. The sound of their angry arguments fades as she hikes alone towards the Good Shepherd and the rest of the pilgrims. She sees them, at a great distance, on a mountaintop. The sounds of their singing and laughter echo into the valley where she walks alone. The price she pays for following Pride, instead of Love, is painful. She wonders when she shifted, to love her own ideas more than fellow pilgrims. Dusk settles. Growing shadows and strange noises are frightening for a solitary pilgrim. Her ideas aren’t such great company now.
What if I treated all brothers and sisters in Christ, exactly, I mean EXACTLY, how I wish they’d treat me? Wow. How much might that alter my speech and behavior? Especially with Christians with whom I disagree? Is it possible that the golden rule is a major bridge that spans itself between divided Christians?
What if the dark valleys of life are more intensely shadowed because we limit the amount of people we allow into our circle, like our little Pilgrim above? We’ve boxed, labeled, and tucked away some fellow Christians, because of clashing beliefs. That felt safer and easier at the time we did that, but maybe what we didn’t realize is that when we put them in that box and shoved a lid on it, we also shut out all the light which God has placed inside them. Light we needed.
Please don’t misapply my words to people from whom God calls you away, because they are toxic. That’s a different discussion. Let’s be real. I’m talking about the believers who are on the other side of all the Covid arguments from you. The believers who voted for the other guy. The believers who_____________________________. You can fill in the blank.
Some (but probably not most) of our disagreements are serious doctrinal, theological issues, that I don’t wish to minimize. Iron indeed sharpens iron. Lately though, John 17, starting at verse 20, keeps ringing over and over in my head.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me,” John 17 20-23 ESV.
I am currently leveled by the fact that THREE TIMES Jesus asks his Father to help his children be unified. Three times. I need to line up my priorities with Heaven’s. How about you? I think it’s important to God that we do way better at this unity thing. I recently listened to a podcast by a sister in Christ who survived abuse at the hands of Satan worshippers. She made this powerful statement about unity. “I wish the body of Christ could understand how powerful unity is in the spiritual realm. Satanists and witches get in agreement quickly when they are casting spells and curses, and that’s part of what gives them power with demonic forces. If only Christians could understand that when we are unified, the power that comes to us is so vastly superior to that, able to tear down strongholds, break curses and help prisoners get free.”
I think God is serious about unity, so it’s important I am too. So, I made a list with the golden rule in mind. I pondered how I’d like other Christians to treat me. I thought about how I’d like to be spoken to and spoken about. I thought about how I’d like to feel safe knowing my brother’s and sister’s inner thoughts and opinions of and about me reflected heaven, not the world.
I listed specific behaviors and attitudes. After that, I laid it before God and asked him to help me authentically treat my Christian family the way I want to be treated. Not faking it, but for real, from the heart, heavenly attitudes, and behavior. That’s a big prayer for me. I will need to cooperate with God for him to make some significant changes in me.
These are my ideas of how I’d like people with whom I disagree, to deal with me, and some Scriptures the Holy Spirit recalled.
Listen to me to understand, not to form your next argument. “Brothers and sisters, everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” James 1:19.
Avoid preaching at me on social media, seeing me as a deceived idiot. Even if you authentically believe I’m deceived. Or an idiot. Pray that God will open my heart and mind instead. If I’m in a real time relationship with you, then God may open a door for you to speak with me in love. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted,” Galatians 6:1
Ask me questions about why I believe and think the way I do. Minus a snotty, superior attitude. Remember, that you might be deceived about some things also. “Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them,” Proverbs 26:12.
Don’t unfriend me, block me, cancel me, or cut me out of your life when our views clash. I need you, and you need me. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another,” Proverbs 27:17.
Please don’t shine a magnifying glass on my weaknesses (even in your own head) then treat me as if that is my sum total. Remember we are all going through God’s sanctifying processes, with strong and weak places in our characters. “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus,” Philippians 1:6.
There’s my list. It now becomes my standard of how I need to behave towards others. Maybe you need to make a list too? A lot of bridges are being blown up in the body of Christ. I think we better get busy building some instead.