If you haven’t noticed, things have gotten kind of divisive lately.
I read recently that President Obama is, statistically, the most polarizing President in history. Sounds hard to believe after W. Basically, that means we’re becoming more hard-bitten in our half-witted “ideologies” while we plug our ears with toilet paper.
And you know that Christians are no different.
While I try to keep conversations here productive and reasonable, sometimes the controversy is just exhausting. Christians (at least those of us who pay attention to any other Christians) divide ourselves over politics, social issues, theology, the “feel” of Christianity (since when is Christianity about a “feeling?”), and a million other tiny issues. We are even divided over which Christians we should show unity with.
If you think we may be letting things get out of hand, please read on. And I’ve never asked you to do this before, but let’s try to share this message at least as much as we spread the latest juicy bit of Christian gossip.
A hundred years ago, things were so different. Even the President of the United States could make a royal screw up once in a while and avoid the immediate and public ridicule the President enjoys today.
And it was sure the same with churches and pastors. A pastor could say something stupid and thoughtless in church and his people would forgive him and it would be old news by next Sunday.
You know how Christianity has the lame habit of making knock off versions of popular worldly things? Add this to the list. Many mornings, my blog reader looks like the magazine rack at the grocery store, and I eagerly gobble up the gossip, smirk at the failures, envy the famous. Crystal Cathedral, Eddie Long, Mark Driscoll, John Piper, they all provide us with our very own Christian tabloid trash. And then I stand in the checkout line, look up my nose at the woman ahead of me, reading the latest celebrity dirt and I whisper, “Thank you God that I have better things to do with my time.”
In any other time, most of what we consider “news” would be worthless information. Our Christian culture is dominated by a few overexposed pastors, and we keep gorging ourselves on the same dirty laundry.
Of course, Christians did a great job of dividing before the internet. 10,000 denominations speak for themselves. My Baptist ministry professor joked that the Baptists don’t have church plants, they have “splants.” That’s a church split that becomes two new “plants.”
If you have ever tried to mix two groups of Christians together for worship, or you’ve ever visited a church outside your usual comfort zone, you know how hard it is. Everyone has an opinion about everything. Any two Christians could debate endlessly:
What songs do we sing?
Where do we put our hands?
How long does the pastor speak?
Dunking or sprinkles?
Juice or wine? Bread or wafers?
And on and on. But a good friend pointed out to me recently that no matter which two random Christians you pick out of the world, no matter how much they disagree, they will agree on one very important thing:
How to use a shovel.
No Christian ever said to another, “Well at our church, we use a shovel like this!” while jamming it handle-first into the ground like a dolt. When a hole needs to be dug, there’s so few ways to do it that even two Christians couldn’t find a way to argue about it (except maybe who should do the digging).
The Least Important of These
There are a million arguments we can have and a billion points we can make.
The problem is, the world doesn’t care about our arguments and our points and our theological purity.
When it comes to making a difference in someone’s life, there isn’t a lot to argue about.
If someone’s hungry, they need food. If they are sick, they need medicine. If they are lonely, they need a friend. Jesus never said, “Whenever you had an argument for the least important of these issues, you did so for me.”
It’s not like I’ll never comment on another controversial issue if I think a discussion is helpful. But let’s put more energy in being unified in making a difference, rather than being divided to make a point.
If you want to help give the Christian blog world a wake up call, please share this message. And tell me what you think. Has our division and polarity reached a boiling point? Is it time to beat our swords into plowshares? Or are some hills worth dying on? What great thing do you see happening as a result of Christians being united?