6 Healthy Ways To Combat Social Divisions In The Church

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It’s important to remember when discussing issues of contention – like race and politics – that: 1) We are Christians before we are anything else, and 2) As the body of Christ, we are called to continually strive for unity.

You might ask “But who’s unity do we strive for if we have disagreeing opinions? Should I conform to their point of view?” Maybe – maybe not.

Either way, understanding that “Unity does not mean uniformity,” as Jason “Propaganda” Petty would say, enables us to push back darkness in different areas of the world and not be against one another.

Christians aren’t called to have an “us versus them” mentality in any arena of this world; because, God did not have that mentality when we rebelled against him. He pursued unity at the cost of his son, Jesus.

For that reason, we too pursue unity at all costs. We do it for the hope of displaying the love of God. So if we’re serious about gospel unity, it is important we make efforts to better discern and strive for it. Here are six ways to work towards this.

1. Pray

When we feel like we’re about to reach a boiling point, the best thing we can do is pray – expressing our anger to God. We can seek him for clarity about the way we feel. His wisdom is greater than ours.

Our anger is sometimes righteous, but when we rely on our emotions to guide our anger we respond unrighteously (Psalm 4:4; James 1:20).

But submitting our emotions and feelings to God will not shock him. He already knows what we feel. He invites our hearts to be drawn to him in all areas of life – even the areas that anger or sadden us.

2. Get Off Social Media

There is much miscommunication and misunderstanding when we try gauging the tone and emotion of someone’s voice through their written words.

We are errant people. Everything we would like to say on social media may not be edifying. Social networking is a great platform, but as Christians we should be careful to steward it like so.

For the sake of showing the love of God, it may be a good idea to practice shelving our social media accounts for extended periods of time. This can especially be fruitful during moments of social unrest.

Whatever the amount of time or for whatever reason, dismissing ourselves from social media may be the best thing for our souls. We need God more than we need social media.

3. Write It Down

Whether we decide to step away from social media or not, writing our words down – opposed to digitally posting them – may help us better think through what we’re feeling.

We will be able to go back later and see where our hearts were. It could be a moment of rejoicing in the clarity from God – or perhaps a moment of confession to God because we sinned unrighteously in our anger.

Concealing our opinions from friends doesn’t always mean we’re being fake. Some things are better left revealed only to God for a moment of time.

4. Make Friends With People Who Disagree With You

If all our friends only support a single side of any particular issue, we become more indifferent, numb, and insensitive to those who disagree with us. It’s easier to dismiss and dehumanize what or who we oppose when we fail to know anyone who holds an opposing view.

But this isn’t the type of “knowing” by facial recognition, weekly church greetings, or workspace sharing. This is instead transparency and vulnerability.

Allow someone who differs from you politically or socially to know your weaknesses and see the ugly parts of your life. If we’re only huddling with people who look, act, vote, and/or sound like us, we stymie our mission to show God’s inclusiveness of salvation.

5. Reach Out

Friendships are messy. There will be disagreements. Friendships that do not have disagreements probably aren’t friendships – they’re acquaintances.

It is good to reach out to the friends who disagree with us when we struggle with a social issue. But we must engage with sincerity.

So these conversations are most fruitful after we’ve been transparent and vulnerable. Furthermore, reaching out after we’ve prayed and written down our frustrations will also enhance these conversations.

It’s easier to dismiss and dehumanize what or who we oppose when we fail to feel what the other person is feeling. God knows everything perfectly, yet even he set this principle for us. He did not abandon us to our feelings. He reached out to us.

God gave us a mediator in Jesus who felt what we feel and was tempted as we are tempted. He did not beat us into submission. He gave us the sacrifice of his son – displaying the intensity of his love for us.

6. Listen

Some of the best experiences and strides we can make towards gospel unity is listening. It can be hard to listen when we’re passionate about the change we want. But if Jesus can sacrifice his life for us – we can sacrifice being heard.

So this isn’t a type of listening that only listens for errant points or points of disagreement. It is a gospel listening with the intention of loving as God loves. “Love does not rejoice at wrongdoings, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). So it is a gospel listening.

Gospel listening is listening that lays down our words momentarily for the sake of hearing a friend’s heart. If Jesus would command us to lay down our lives for our friends – and if he laid down his life for us who were his enemies – how much more could we lay down our words (John 15:13; Romans 5:8)?

Only by God’s grace can we lay down our Facebook ranting, comfort circles, and talking to prove our points. We do all of this and more for the sake of displaying and extending God’s love to his people.

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