In our nation today many things divide us, and sadly, those same issues have spilled over into the church and are causing division where there should be unity. Political differences, polarizing views on vaccines and masks, differing thoughts on racial issues, and many more powder keg topics have caused hurt feelings and may have led some to leave us altogether.
Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” And later in John 17:21, he prayed that the disciples “may all be one … so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
How can we “all be one” in today’s world? How can we love each other when we disagree about so many things?
The same question could be asked about the first 12 followers of Jesus. Just look at how different some of the apostles were. They came from all walks of life. Matthew was a tax collector, working for the Romans and hated by the Jews and Simon was a Zealot, part of a political movement that sought to rebel against the Roman Empire. And remember how James and John riled up the other apostles when they asked Jesus if they could be the top guys in his kingdom?
As Francis Schaeffer said in The Mark of the Christian, “We cannot expect the world to believe that the Father sent the Son, that Jesus’ claims are true, and that Christianity is true, unless the world sees some reality of the oneness of true Christians.”
It took a while for Jesus to teach the apostles to get along. Yet somehow, after he left, they were united in a common goal. So how do we get past our differences and show true love toward one another? How do we work together toward a common goal when it’s so tempting to focus on non-essential things?
Here are some practical Bible suggestions:
- “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” (James 1:19)
- “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)
- “Pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:28)
- “Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)