Today, like other days, when I scrolled through posts on my Facebook newsfeed, one theme rose above the din of adorable animal pictures and Buzzfeed videos. It outnumbered brief life updates and albums full of European travel photos. The theme that put all of these innocent, harmless posts to shame can only be encompassed in one word: hostility. Particularly, hostility towards politics. But it wasn’t just the aggressive Facebook brawls under an unappealing pictures of Trump that got my blood boiling. Belligerent political disagreements amongst Americans are, unfortunately, nothing short of commonplace. The hostility that made all other disagreements blend into the backdrop was the vehement political division amongst Christians. Seeing Christians parade their party flags, clinging to their political stance as if it’s the very Gospel itself, is disheartening to say the least. Don’t mistake me: this article is not a call for all Christians to converge political beliefs and sing “Hallelujah” in unison around the White House. But the hostility— amongst Christians—about politics—has GOT. TO. STOP.
We’ve all tasted and felt the sting of this insidious dividing force. We see hostility in yet another status or picture with a very opinionated political view, almost always rife with spiritual superiority. Christians guilting and shaming one another for their varying beliefs. Christians pointing fingers and spewing out generalizations. Christians who identify more with their respective parties than their brothers and sisters in Christ. Whether we witness this hostility amongst our friends and family or experience it within our own hearts, it manifests itself in several ways: irritation, defensiveness, exasperation, despair. Quite frankly, it’s exhausting. I often end up feeling divided within my own soul. Again, please don’t mistake me: political convictions can express our religious views in very complex and meaningful ways. What’s more, respectful political dialogues amongst Christians are not only enlightening but necessary. Christianity and politics are not mutually exclusive by any means. But if these views are cause for hostile division amongst those reconciled by the saving work of Christ, it becomes an issue. It becomes our proverbial “dividing wall.”
With all of the political hostility that I see every day and harbor in my own heart, I can’t help but feel more and more hopeless that Christians will ever see things eye to eye as a universal church. Maybe I’m not the only one who feels this way. For anyone else who may, let this word from the apostle Paul serve as encouragement. In Ephesians, Paul tells us that Christ’s saving work on the cross “broke down the dividing wall of hostility” and “preached peace to those who were far away and peace to those who were near.” Of course, in this context Paul is referring to the age old feud between Jews and Gentiles. At that turning point in Christian history—that is, the aftermath of Jesus’ death and resurrection— the division between Jew and Gentile was staggering. The dissension between the two groups could not have been unified by anything short of a miracle. That is why, when both groups initially learned that they were welcomed into one unifying inheritance, the Jews were disgusted and the Gentiles were in disbelief. Neither group could quite comprehend how they were expected to live in unity. Nonetheless, Christ’s reconciling work was finished; He equipped his followers, both Jew and Gentile, with the Holy Spirit and the universal identifier as “Christian,” first written about in Acts 11. In light of this truth, ask yourself: If Christ can reconcile two of the most hostile groups in history with one act of grace, can he not do the same with a difference as minor as political parties? Is he so incapable?
Those who are up to their elbows in political tension and frustration, rest in this: Christ has put to death division. He has resurrected so that all who believe may have unity in His Spirit (Eph. 4). This unity demands us to bury our pride and love our fellow Christians amidst the differences, not merely despite them. Let go of your anger towards Christians who disagree with you. Forgive those who have offended you by directly or indirectly insulting your political views. Repent if you’ve fostered an attitude of derision or superiority due to political differences. Facilitate good conversations. Listen well. Be stewards of the unity that Christ sacrificed himself to establish. There is hope yet for our church, but we must be willing.
Christ has already broken down our dividing wall. It is up to us what we choose to do with the pieces.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.