How Do We Heal the Division in America?

America has become incredibly divided.

But one of the most convicting things is the response of so many Christians to this divide. There seems to be an eager willingness to quote Jesus in spite of a rampant unwillingness to actually emulate Him to others. In a culture that finds Christianity difficult to believe, this makes it utterly unbelievable. In a culture of division, it’s simply not okay to hold up a LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR sign while throwing stones at anyone who doesn’t agree with you.

While harsh words and irresponsible blame continue to transform into physical violence, we cannot lock Jesus in our churches and relegate faith to religious duty and a few good deeds.

As Christians, we can no longer stand idly by claiming ignorance or fear as justification to shift responsibility to someone else. It is time for the body of Christ to truly become the hope of the world.

Here are three ways my family and I are trying to affect change.

Be Light in Public

We must fight the battle in our public schools.

Four years ago, my wife mentioned the idea of sending our children to private school. At the time, it didn’t seem important. Four years seemed like an eternity. In addition, I went to public school so why should it be any different for my kids?

Well, those four years flew by and we found ourselves in the throes of that decision.

Our neighborhood public school is a Title 1 school which means that it receives subsidies to provide equal opportunities for all students, especially those from low-income families. Because of that, and a host of other reasons, a lot of the families in our demographic have moved to a different school district or opted for private school.

As my wife and I wrestled with our decision, we visited one of the private Christian schools in our area. The school was beautiful. It was filled with God-fearing teachers who taught a Bible-based curriculum. It seemed like the perfect logical answer to our situation. But as we waded into that water, I felt a leading to send our son to public school.

I felt like God was saying, “Instead of going to the sheltered place that openly speaks my name, why don’t you go to the place that openly doesn’t?”

I began to let go of my agenda and my logic and God opened my eyes to a convicting truth. So many of the hesitations we felt about sending our son to public school were rooted in fear. As my wife prayed, she felt the same convictions. We had a decision to make: trust our fear or trust God.

We listened to our heart and let the fear of the Lord guide our decision. In August, our son started kindergarten at our local public school. At their first assembly, our son was recognized as the recipient of the “Listening With Your Heart” award. For us, it was a God wink.

By no means does this discredit private education. But we feel that it is our call to be light in this world—not by simply quoting Jesus, but literally being a contact point for people to experience His goodness. We need to be that light for future generations in our schools.

Instead of being up in arms about removing faith from schools, we’re trying to live out our convictions of faith in the schools.

Refuse to Argue

We must chsnge how we engage in public discourse.

I have made the decision to refrain from arguing, both in person and on social media. People criticized me because they felt it was a judgement on people who chose argue. Other people criticized me because they said that I was neglecting something that was important. Either way, I didn’t argue back.

In the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul writes:

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

If we take him at his word, all means all. This doesn’t mean we can’t point out injustice or that we turn a blind eye to important issues, but it does mean that our hearts have to be free of a desire to be right and our personal agenda can’t rule our actions. Speaking the truth in love is vastly different from a desire to win an argument. This is a subtle line that the church inadvertently crosses on a regular basis. But Paul’s encouragement is simple: when we dive headfirst into a sea of argument, we extinguish our light.

Our culture doesn’t need Christians who long to prove themselves as right or deliver clever arguments on Facebook, it needs Christians who are willing to be like Jesus. Although He was accused and mocked and mistreated, He never defended himself.

Pray

And above all else, we must pray—like really freaking pray.

We must turn the mirror away from ourselves and begin to have a heart for the things that break God’s heart. As the body of Christ, we need to pray dangerous, uncomfortable prayers—prayers that scare the crap out of us. These are the prayers that drag us into the desert and strip us of our ambition and call us to rest in the presence of the Almighty God. Faith can only grow when tested.

Genuine prayer is effective because it requires the removal of pride. Prayer is an act of humility where you confess your insufficiency and invoke the power of God. It’s learning how to lay down your agenda and your will, and ask that God’s will be done.

Instead of ranting about the injustices that you see, cry out to God. Then get really quiet and listen to what He’s saying to you. He will lead you.

Overcoming Darkness

In the 1st century, the sun ceased to shine and mankind stood in darkness. As the ancient texts read, “the sun’s light failed.” Skeptics and scholars alike have tried to bring a logical explanation to this account by proclaiming that it was either an eclipse or simply a literary metaphor used by ancient authors to prove a point.

In our culture today, pundits and cynics alike want to find a cause for the darkness that we are experiencing. They want to blame political parties or immigration or wage inequality or racial tension, but the cause is the exact same as it was back then.

When you remove the presence of Jesus Christ form the world, the result is darkness. But just as simply, His presence brings light to which the darkness cannot survive.

And that’s so much more than wearing a WWJD bracelet, it’s our call is to be imitators of Christ—the common ground that holds the only hope bright enough for these dark times.

The church must come together under the unifying hope of the gospel and expose it to the world. After all, why else are we here.

MH

 

Matt Ham is an author, speaker, and the co-founder of YouPrint. YouPrint is a faith development organization who helps Christians bridge the gap between Sundays. Visit our site and sign up for our resources at www.youprint.life

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  • aprilbest1981

    “This doesn’t mean we can’t point out injustice or that we turn a blind eye to important issues, but it does mean that our hearts have to be free of a desire to be right and our personal agenda can’t rule our actions. Speaking the truth in love is vastly different from a desire to win an argument. Paul’s encouragement is simple: when we dive headfirst into a sea of argument, we dampen our light.”

    OK this might be a weird comment but here is a way that I have implemented this in my life…when I lived with a roommate who left crumbs and dishes in the kitchen, I would get frustrated and righteous and resentful in my heart…I had a shift in thinking one day and decided that if I couldn’t clean up with a happy heart then I wasn’t going to do it…it released me somehow of the resentful/angry feelings…it also changed to where I was almost always able to do it with a happy heart…

    anyway, maybe not relevant, but it is the first think I thought of…

    • That’s just intentional thinking and intentional living, April. There’s nothing more liberating than realizing your power of self-control over your emotions and feeling “offended”.

      Brilliant application!!

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  • Great post Matt. The church must rise up and be the church and quit expecting the government to be our savior. We must grow to live a life diffrent from the world but still neck deep engaged with our communities. We have some hard work to do

    • Thanks, Jon. It’s our time, brother.