We live in a divided society. This is not new news to us as it is bold and in our faces in the media, our workplaces, families, neighborhoods, and even churches. Division fuels the political climate; without division, candidates would have little on which to campaign. People much smarter than me are predicting civil war in the US before the decade is completed. Within the church, people disagree and disassociate over personal preferences such as the style of worship music, the color of carpet, and the kind of coffee served. In the scripture passage from Luke 3 Sunday morning, Pastor Rich pointed out that the crowd John the Baptist was addressing was just as divided as anything we can observe today. The people groups coming out to hear John’s message were at odds with each other politically, economically, racially, and spiritually, and the division was at times, deadly. However, each group responded to John’s call to repentance with the same question: What then shall we do?

As followers of Christ, we are exhorted to be led by the Holy Spirit and lay down our rights as He instructs for the sake of the unity of the body of Christ. I am excited that our small groups are studying the scriptural “One Anothers” this year. This study was life changing for me personally in that I understood in a practical way how to live the gospel. Here are a few of the “One Anothers” as an illustration:

Love One Another, Forgive One Another, Do Not Lie to or Slander One Another, Bear One Another’s Burdens, Do Not Judge One Another, Do Not Grumble Against Each Other, Serve One Another in Love, Submit to One Another, Have Equal Concern for One Another

None of these things are possible to do without the empowerment of God. They require humility, selflessness, and are completely counter to our culture and fallen world. But they are revolutionary and when implemented, are irresistible and lovely because they personify the life of Christ within us.

In contrast, in response to demands for personal rights, the North American church has in some instances chosen to accommodate these desires, and as a result is experiencing mission drift. Like an indulgent parent with a wayward teenager, it is easier to relax the household rules instead of keeping a high regard for the truth of scripture. It’s more popular to redefine and excuse behavior rather than do the hard thing and confront sin and its resulting death. Consequently, people are being “loved” straight into eternal judgment.

The true antidote to division in our culture and churches is the gospel. 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 states:

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles. But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.