Bridging The Great Divides With A Jesus-Centered Faith

As I scroll through my Facebook feed each day I am always struck by the deep divides that exist between so many of my Christian friends.  I see Christians sharply divided over politics, Biblical interpretation, social justice issues and so much more.  

The latest presidential debate sparked a flurry of Facebook posts within which many of my Christian friends both defended their candidate of choice, while excoriating the other. In one case, one of my friends offered an impassioned defense of support for the candidate they believed had "sinned less" than the other.   

I think the problem that we are coming face to face with as Christians during this contentious election season is deep-seeded and difficult to address.  Both conservative and progressive Christians claim to be appealing to the same playbook, but are finding vastly different answers within it.  

The problem is that we've come to see our Christian faith as a system of beliefs rather than a way to live.  As a result, we've also come to see our connection to Jesus as a problem to be solved rather than a relationship to be experienced and enjoyed.  

In his latest book, The Great Spiritual Migration, author Brian Mclaren, posited a powerful question.  "What would it mean," he asked, for Christian to rediscover their faith not as a problematic system of beliefs, but as a just and generous way of life...?"  

What would it look like if Christians migrated away from a system of belief toward a way of living by Jesus example?  Would it magically produce unity?  Would people who have incredible disagreements on political, social and theological points of view suddenly lay those aside and hug it out?  Probably not, right?  

But what would it hurt to try?  After all, Jesus spent a great deal of time praying that his followers would be unified and that the would love one another.  The Apostle Paul addressed unity in every single one of his letters to the early Church.  You also find appeals for unity, mutual forbearance and love in virtually every other book in the New Testament.  

What would it look like if we actually set aside our systemic ideas about what it means to be a Christian, and simply followed Jesus?  

Maybe, it would mean that no matter where we fell personally on political, social and theological issues we would find common ground  with our sisters and brothers by asking that familiar and question:  "What would Jesus do?"  

May you strive today to move away from religion and toward a relationship with Jesus.  May you find the strength to discover Jesus-centered, common ground with people who disagree with you and you with them.  May you push back against the systems of your belief and inquire what Jesus would have you do.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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