We had our first week back at church recently. I will say it was an emotional experience. I loved hearing the multitude of voices and bustle of conversation that happened in the parking lot after service. I loved hearing the cries of toddlers and babies all across the sanctuary as we turned our ears to listen to the message. In a moment, we had packed generations into a single room to ruminate on the truths of scripture. We cut past the silos of children’s church and Sunday school classes bracketed by age groups. We came together to reflect on a mission that we have been given in a generation that seeks to go astray: to hold the line.
And the line is clear. “And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it,” (2 John 5-6). This commandment to love is not the kind of love that lets things slide or just accepts things as they are (I think one could argue that that is not love at all). But this love is definitely a love that is patient. It is kind. It does not envy or boast. It holds to what is true. It does not insist on its own way. It rejects the spirit of antichrist and false gospel and holds to what is true. It loves people in the midst of their sin, but it loves people so much that it refuses to leave people there.
I think this has been a season in our world where the church has had a struggle to stick to its mission. One scroll through Facebook and it is clear that most of the church gets stuck in Facebook rants and arguments that will never sway anyone involved. It has been a season, and I am afraid many in the church are not known for their love and being the hands and feet of Jesus. It is a season where we have just been loud and shrill.
It is amazing how it is so easy for us to leave behind the mission of the gospel to fight over our opinions. And how we are often so quick to throw down our reputation as a believer in Jesus to “win”an argument. We forget that for us, to enter an argument means to already have lost it. This is not to say that conversation about what is going on in our world is wrong. But quarreling about it is.
I think the thing that has stood out to me the most during this time is the fact that this world is not our home, at least, not in the state that it is in. There will be a day when Christ reclaims His kingdom and we will reign with him, and it will be the first true place that we can call home. But that is not now. We are pilgrims seeking the kingdom to come. And until that kingdom comes, we hold the line. We love those who have other opinions. We comfort the downcast and broken. We share truth in a society that worships lies.
And the first step in holding the line is loving one another and stepping into unity together. That means laying down our opinions and realizing that the only opinion that really matters is God’s.
Only then can we hold the line.