I saw an infographic the other day that showed how the gap between political ideologies has expanded over the past 20 years. Democrats are moving more to the “left” and Republicans are moving more towards the “right.” There is much less cooperation across the aisle today than there was 20 years ago.
You can see this division forming in other areas, too. Pick any issue that faces our country or even our community, and you will find that our opinions are getting stronger, the rhetoric is getting more heated, and the two sides are becoming more defined. It is human nature for us to think in terms of “us” and “them.”
Christ compels us to think in a different way (Rm. 12:2). In fact, if you look at the Bible as a whole, you see over and over the story of reconciliation. On a macro level, we have been reconciled to God through Christ, and the Bible tells that story. But throughout the story are smaller stories, as well. In the prophet Ezekiel’s time, God’s people have been divided into two kingdoms who are at times violently opposed to each other. God gives a beautiful illustration to Ezekiel, in which he is to hold together in his hand two pieces of wood representing the two kingdoms. “…say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick, making them a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’” (Ez. 37:15-28)
Of course, this reconciliation comes from God, not from us. So what can we do to bring reconciliation? We can live out the unity we’ve found in Christ. Just as the Israelites would find unity only in God’s hand, we find unity in Christ alone. It was Jesus’ prayer (Jn. 17:20-21). It was the first church’s example (Acts 2:44-47). And in both of these, a result is that the world takes notice. We have an opportunity to strive toward the unity God has given us in Christ (Eph. 4:3,13), and when we do, we show the world what community, and grace, and love really look like. Just as the one bread of communion is a symbol of unity for us (1 Cor. 10:17), our love shown for each other in the church is a symbol of unity to the world (Jn. 13:35).
It starts in how you relate to your brother or sister in Christ. Where do you need to seek reconciliation?