The Modern Pilgrim's Journey

What Happens When Christians Are as Divided as The World

The Modern Pilgrim #37- In which Pilgrim finds herself at odds with fellow travelers. She becomes tangled in debates about who the Good Shepherd promotes into leadership positions. A group of travelers, including our Pilgrim, begin to argue their ideas. Unfortunately, Pride, Arrogance, Foolishness and Fear, insert themselves into the conversation and overtake it. {These evil characters always lurk behind the pilgrim group. Those who don’t keep in step with the Good Shepherd are especially vulnerable to their tricky ways.} Within moments most pilgrims towards the back of the group, are shouting angrily. None are listening to the pleading voices of Humility, Wisdom and Faith. Sadly, the three virtues are forced to leave the contentious group to continue the journey with the rest of the pilgrims still moving with the Good Shepherd. At the start of the journey, the Good Shepherd positioned the three noble virtues within the traveling group for guidance, clarity and protection from the wicked characters who lead pilgrims astray.

The ongoing war between Division and Unity became more intense in America last week.

Good thing the body of Christ is entering the battle shoulder to shoulder, unified in purpose under Christ, bonded by love, showing the lost world how iron sharpens iron.

How we speak truth with love.

How we disagree and debate without sacrificing relationship.

How we fight for what we believe in, but we don’t annihilate the guy next to us in the foxhole to do it.   

Good thing we God followers aren’t wasting daylight or brain space on foolish arguments on social media.

Good thing we have the sensitivity and tenderness of Christ to pour grace oil over our disagreements.

Good thing we’re not forming opinions and beliefs based primarily on what our favorite newscaster or media guru believes.

Good thing we’re digging deeply into the Word ourselves for our battle plans, and not relying solely on sermons and devotionals to gain wisdom and knowledge.

Good thing we are searching out matters for ourselves, putting the world’s facts and research through the filter of the Holy Spirit, the one who leads us into all truth.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I am calling things that are not, as though they are. (Romans 4:17) The above statements are what every God follower should look like. Not perfectly, but in ever increasing measure. And then faithfully holding one another accountable when we look and sound more like the world than Christ.

Some God followers are walking in the virtues and behaviors listed above and to you I say, may your number increase. You are the ones I’m watching, after Christ himself, because I want to be more like you, as you follow Jesus. Like Paul said. “Follow me as I follow the example of Christ,” 1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV.

You are the ones that keep calling me to prayer.

To search out matters for myself.

To go deeper in the Word to acquire wisdom and allow God to share secrets from his knowledge banks.

I want to be known, like Jesus and you, for love and wisdom.

For the ability to respond, not react.

Loud and passionate about the things Jesus is loud and passionate about.

Silent when he is.

Steer casual conversations to eternity, like he did.

To walk people to the light during the darkest of times.

Sadly, I wouldn’t write the first part of this post the way I did, if too many who name Christ weren’t behaving poorly in the public square, pulpits, and media platforms. So, this is what I’m saying to you. Stop it. In Jesus’ name, stop it.

This is the church’s moment to rise in unity or fall on opposite sides of a cultural war. Did you know there were passionate God followers on BOTH sides of the American Civil War? Both sides believed they were doing God’s will. Both sides were certain their cause was just. The privilege of hindsight tells us that was not true.

That’s not to say that God did not lead, protect, and deliver soldiers wearing blue and gray alike. He surely did. One of the problems of our culture today is not understanding our true history. Let me share just a little. I usually end my post’s word counts around here, but can you please stick with me for a few hundred more words?

In my travels as a Civil war history lover, I came across a thesis paper I found so intriguing entitled “”Soldiers of the Cross”: Confederate Soldier-Christians and the Impact of War on Their Faith.” The author, Kent Dollar, discusses the faith of nine specific Confederate soldiers, who detail personal relationships with Christ in their diaries and letters. It’s fascinating to read about the faith walks of these nine men, some mature Christians, and others new converts as they experience life and God before, during and after the war.  I’ve placed the link for the paper at the end of this post.

Too often Northerners can be dismissive and judgmental about Confederate soldiers and their motives. Most of them were not slave holders themselves yet grew up in a culture where keeping humans in bondage was the backbone of their economy and way of life. As the abolition movement gained strength, it’s pressure against the South was enormous. When Abraham Lincoln won the presidency, the weight of condemnation against their part of the country became untenable for many Southerners. In their minds, the sovereignty of their states became threatened to the point that they left the union and formed their own country.

The Confederate’s states decision to secede and then go to war to preserve slavery is still difficult to understand with a 21st century American mindset that finds all slavery abhorrent. As Christians, it’s easy to be dismissive and judgmental of all Christians who supported the Confederacy and fought to preserve it. It’s easier to think that few were true believers and if they were, surely they didn’t walk closely with God. Historical records of diaries, letters and such, simply don’t support that assumption. Life and people are more complex than we want to accept sometimes. Frankly, it’s just easier to plunk people in little boxes with labels of our own making, then deal with them accordingly, people of the past, and people of the present.

To gain some perspective on ourselves, flip the historical viewpoint and see our current culture through an average Confederate soldier’s eyes. The most glaring cultural sin, that I believe would shock even the most godless soldier from either side of the Civil War is abortion. Imagine the conversation, if we could speak to someone from that era. How do we explain a culture that accepts the murder of infants inside and outside of the womb, by the millions? For decades. That’s a complicated conversation, at best.

In the same way godly Confederate soldiers believed God and the angels to be on their side of the battlefields, so do polarized Christians today. Each camp believes they are lined up with Scripture and kingdom values. Certain the other side is wrong. Millions on each side of our current divide are passionate and faithful in their walk with God yet are spending too much time and energy fighting one another instead of Satan.

So, what’s the plan, body of Christ? Are we simply going to continue to butt heads and then huddle back into camps where we all share the same opinion, presenting ourselves to the world as a fractured mess instead of a loving family bound together by the Holy Spirit?

Well, that’s for each individual Christian to decide isn’t it?  How do you think the current state of the body of Christ in America appears from heaven’s point of view?

If each of us were to undergo a heavenly audit of all our conversations and social media posts over this last year, would we be okay with that? I’ve had some things for which I’ve repented. How about you?

Are we willing to dig into the painful, difficult, sword clashing conversations with believers whose political views differ from ours? Or shall we just continue to avoid them?

Are we willing to make room for fellow believers to be in process, understanding that every single one of us has places of error in our lives that the Holy Spirit hasn’t put his thumb on yet?

Could we pour our passions and energy into praying for those we believe are ensnared by deception instead of chewing them out or preaching at them on social media or worse yet, cutting them out of our circles?

Are we able to be so filled with the Holy Spirit that we don’t quickly take up a spirit of offense when another believer comes at us, maybe not so respectfully, for our views?

Can we forgive those brothers and sisters in Christ who frankly aren’t looking and sounding like Jesus? Can we speak truth with love to them? AFTER we pray for them first, and are led by the Spirit in our conversation?

Do you think it’s possible for us to stop getting our talking points from news media and start getting them from the Holy Spirit instead?

Time is short. People are plunging into hell every day. How much energy do we want to continue to spend on fighting each other instead of our common enemy? This week, my prayer is that God will outline specific strategies for how we can start to move forward together again during the gut-wrenching process our country is going through right now. I’ll share anything I learn next time. Until then, consider this quote from my pastor, Sam Rifkogel, which I’ve used before, because it’s such a powerful standard. “In the body of Christ, we don’t always need to see eye to eye, but we’ve got to go forward, hand in hand.”    

https://trace.tennessee.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4655&context=utk_graddiss

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