As we have lived through this season, I am almost speechless to describe it. We are walking through a pandemic that is ravaging bodies, economies, and relationships. At the same time, cultural upheaval of a magnitude I have never seen is rippling through our communities. Amid this sits the beautiful, often broken, complicated, holy, and redeemed Bride of Christ—the Church. Oh, how I love her—she is not perfect, but God is holding her, challenging her, rooting out sin, and calling her to show grace in a world that has lost its healing songs of mercy.
Mercy’s songs, I humbly appeal, are quieting because we often cannot hold difficult realities about ourselves together. Right now, culturally, we are struggling with our complexities and would rather label one another as “good” or “bad” based on one opinion, one mistake, one difference among us. We have started putting people into these camps, categorizing one another as “this” or “that,” boxing complex human beings into spaces in which we will not let them escape. We are even doing this sometimes in the church.
Yet, we who follow the Bible know how convoluted we are, for we bear both His image and a sinful nature simultaneously. And, that reality gives us nuances that are not easily inserted into a simplistic duality. Even when we have claimed the blood of Jesus as our righteousness—we have been born again, we still have not been glorified yet and face the challenge of our flesh daily.
Indeed, we are all made up of healthy and unhealthy elements; we are a convoluted jumble of it all. As a wise counselor shared with me, we are all made up of parts— some functioning well and some not. We have so much going on all at once. That is why we must resist the labeling of one another in exclusive, binding, and unyielding ways.
Dividing ourselves into camps and words solely based on experiences and identities is so limiting. That is not to say that these realities do not matter; they do— God made us specifically, beautifully, and purposefully in these ways. But, our first identity as Christians must be in the blood of Jesus.
As Christians, somehow, we have to reach through all this and grab the splintery Cross. I see our hands there, all different, reaching through the darkness and terror to that Cross, holding there together. As we do so in the midst of these crises, our compassion towards one another has to be so very strong, our love so very wide— wide enough to feel the stretch of Christ’s arms on the bloody cross.
We need such humility to find one another. Let me say that again to you and to myself—we need such humility to find one another.
In the church, may we be found calling each other sister and brother first. May we hold one another together. May we have difficult conversations about our sin individually and corporately, hear one another anew, and walk in each other’s shoes more than we have. But, but, but, we cannot divide ourselves in the church.
Please, church, stay at the Cross. Stay near it. Let the blood of Christ be our foundation. Everything must be handled in the shadow of the Cross. That is where we must begin and eventually end. And, if we think that anything or anyone other than Jesus can change a heart, we, too, will find ourselves bowing before a godless idol of humanistic ideology that will eventually devour our souls.
Instead, let us be found at the Cross, singing songs of mercy to a world that needs to see us finding unity in all our differences because of the blood of Jesus. And may our songs of humility, redemption, and praise to our Father lead others to Jesus, in Whom streams of Living Water forever flow.