Minister’s Message: What unites? Being one in Christ

It seems everywhere you look and on every level people are gridlocked

Is our world divided?

Well, that sure is understatement! It seems everywhere you look and on every level people are gridlocked over politics, the pandemic, family, gender, religion, socioeconomic status and nationality. Our opinions and feelings fuel these divisions to such a tipping point that many people would rather throw away relationships and be content to leave hostile barriers in place than seek to be unified.

For followers of Jesus, we are encouraged not to sit on the sidelines, but to live out the unity which is highlighted in the mission of Jesus.

In the Bible, Paul, inspired by God, wrote to the churches in Ephesus about living into the reality of new life and in the new society God has created through Jesus. Jesus broke down the wall between God and humanity when He died on the cross for the things that separated us from God and rose from the grave to prove his victory over death.

The shockwaves of this miraculous event, “made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:5).

This relationship cannot be earned, but it is simply given from God as a gift to us.

So in receiving God’s grace, we as followers of Jesus are called his “workmanship” who are created “to do good works” for God’s glory (Eph. 2:10). Paul then challenges followers of Jesus with such a calling to live out those “good works” and break down the barriers that so easily split us. Paul addresses the divide between Jews and non-Jews and explains how God has brought peace to humanity and as a result, believers should seek the same peace.

Christ came to destroy hostility (v. 16) and is the great equalizer (v. 18). So, the big question is, “how do we do that?”

Even within the Christian community, there will be things people see differently. As a young pastor I was encouraged to “major on the majors, and minor on the minors.”

Our world is desperately in need of hope and I believe followers of Jesus can share that hope. We begin by seeking God and His unity with each other while actively dropping hostility. That means we model the servant heart of Jesus by releasing our “rights” and laying down our “freedoms” as we seek to live out the peace Christ preached.

We can still stand up for truth — even when we disagree — but we all would benefit if we did not put up walls and become hostile or obnoxious with each other. When we stop seeing other Christians with the “us versus them” we can then experience the purpose of the church Jesus intended. We can share faith struggles, celebrations, and even mourn together when what is the best is not lived out. We can give up our comforts and preferences to serve others with Jesus’ love.

As we love each other this way, we are being “built together into a dwelling place for God” (Eph. 2:22) in oneness for God’s glory.

How can you live out the peace of Christ today in your relationships and break down walls of hostility?

Frank Alioto serves as a chaplain in our community and a pastor at Roots Family Church.

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