Division is not hard to find. In fact, unity is rarer. Ever since the Tower of Babel and the times of the Patriarchs, humankind has found increasing ways to divide itself. The Pharisees set themselves apart from Jesus by their known heritage (casting scorn on Jesus’ own conception). The Jews separated themselves from the “dogs” (Gentiles). Some early Christian converts distinguished themselves as followers of “Peter” or “Paul” rather than followers of Jesus.
This practice has continued to modern day. Class, capability, race, political slant and religious choices are just a few of the dividing lines in the sand. Honestly, every unique individual might find themselves encased in a socio-politico-religious dodecagon if all their so-called “dividing lines” were joined together. The problem with this kind of thinking, of course, is that at its core, it isolates us. Eventually, you could find a way to disagree with everyone, and then we all might as well move to deserted islands (separate ones, of course) because we just can’t get along.
The Lines We Draw In the Sand
Sadly, division is as common in Christianity as anywhere else—if not moreso. Where we ought to be modeling the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, instead our 40,000+ denominations form something more like a divisive rhombicosidodecahedron, where the people on the 20 triangular faces don’t interact with the 30 square faces, and the 12 pentagonal faces mutter about the 60 vertices behind their backs, and don’t even get us started on those 120 edges (they’re probably really cults. Maybe.).
There isn’t really any hope for Christians all getting on the same doctrinal page before Christ returns, when we’ll “know even as we are known,” and will see clearly through the glass. Nevertheless, God calls each of us a child, His child, and part of one body—the Body of Christ. How often do we take for granted that no matter our denomination, we have spiritual siblings in every single church across the world? Lutheran, Protestant, Catholic, aboveground, underground, safe or secret, persecuted or free, these are all our brothers and sisters in Christ. Not just those who fit on our side of one line, but those across other lines of denomination, doctrine, belief, and practice.
We are all saved. All sanctified. All following the same Lord, even if we understand him differently based on our theological scope. And yet our focus tends to be on our differences, not our similarities.
One Body, One Tribe
In the blockbuster 2018 movie “Black Panther,” King T’Challa of the fictional African province Wakanda addresses the United Nations with a speech that was perfect for its time. He closes with this statement: “We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe.”
Think about that. Christianity is in a time of crisis. The Enemy is ever on the move, and the times grow darker—sometimes by the day. Yet greater is He that is in us (all of us!) than he who is in the world. How powerful could Christianity truly be if we focused on what unites us, rather than what divides us? What if we found a way to look after our fellow Christians as one single tribe?
Because in God’s eyes, you know, that’s what we are—one tribe. One family. Neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, Protestant nor Catholic, Trinitarian nor Unitarian. We are all His, we are all Christ’s body. He works with each of us, whether we have the “corner” on ultimate truth or not. And part of learning to live the love of Christ in this world must start with loving our brothers and sisters in Christ despite our differences.
In your own life, your own walk, look at the lines in the sand and find ways to erase them. Reach out to Christians of different denominations. Build bridges. Forge bonds of peace in unity. To the best of your own ability, live peaceably with all Christians—and all mankind.
And when it comes down to it, above all else…love them like Jesus does.