Romans 8 tells us that nothing can separate us from the love that God has for us. Unfortunately we have come up with 10,000 reasons to withhold love from one another in spite of what God has done for us in Christ.
It is easier to talk more about what divides us than what unites us. It is more effortless to spew hate than to exhibit love and grace. The list of topics that divide us grows every year. This does not come out of life by the Spirit by life led by the desires of the flesh. Divisiveness is not of the Holy Spirit. Division and divisiveness comes from the worst part of ourselves. It spews out of our desire to be right. It speeds down the highways of life, careening around corners, and smashing into crowds of innocent bystanders. The carnage is difficult to even look at.
There are calls in scripture for division. These are calls to separate the body of Christ from harmful elements. If you spend some time looking into those the early Christians were called to separate from it had more to do with immorality than bad doctrine. In Philippians 1, Paul even calls out those who preach Christ out of the wrong motives and says even then at least Christ is being preached and doesn’t call on them to stop,
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice…”
I believe many of us have become undisciplined in the way we deal with each other. I believe there is a certain laziness that has discovered it is faster and easier to tear something down than to build something or someone up. The builder of the house needs more patience than the demolition crew that tears it down 100 years later. The thing is, we are called to the first not the second and God supplies the qualities that lead to mutual edification not mutually assured destruction.
Paul spoke into all of this in Galatians 5. He dealt with our propensity to use our freedom for sin as well as to attack each other. He also gives the solution – life by the Spirit rather than life by the flesh. We often quote, memorize or sing the last part of this passage without considering why Paul even had to give us the “Fruit of the Spirit” in the first place,
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.“
There is a better conversation to be had among Christians and it is a conversation about what unites us. This is the way of love. This is the way of the Spirit. This requires discipline and the fruit the Spirit produces. It requires a putting away of the natural inclinations of our human fleshliness. It will involve doing and saying things that don’t come naturally to us but only come through the Spirit of God. The more we have the unity conversation the less division conversation will really matter. I am not saying that we must let “anything go” for the sake of unity. Some people hold that view. I do not and neither did Paul…he just said that above. I am saying that the closer we all draw to Christ and grow our faith in Christ, the tighter we will be in fellowship with one another and those things that divide us will fade away as we fix our eyes on Jesus. There will be no separating the children of God who are united, not by their lack of doctrinal disagreements, but by their laser beam focus on the Son of God and pleasing Him only.
Let us be looking for reasons to be united, starting with Christ and then continuing to seek out another 9,999. They are there if you are looking for them. Truth is, we find what we are looking for whether it be division or unity.