Why is the Church so Polarized?
I don’t know what’s happening to the church in North America but it seems that a great divide is growing and I don’t believe it’s of the Lord. There is a view that if a Christian doesn’t hold exactly to a full set of beliefs they are automatically on the outside looking in.
The balance is gone
When I was a teenager I remember a dear friend of mine always saying, “Balance is the key”. I never forgot that. It has saved me from much conflict over the years.
The middle ground is disappearing. I see this all the time. Instead of looking at the good in 2 opposing sides there is a demand to choose one and despise the other.
Let’s talk specifics
The recent debate about racism in the US is a perfect example. If a person speaks out against systemic racism or used the phrase “Black Lives Matter” they are labeled “liberal” or even worse, anti-Republican. If a person stays silent they are condemned for being blind and ignorant and promoting an ultra-Right view.
Stats are thrown around like confetti in the wind. Everyone has their favourite experts to prop up and their hobby horses to ride.
Inside the church
The same is true inside the church. If an assembly does something outside the traditional norm they are often blasted for being liberal because they don’t follow all the same rules. If an assembly doesn’t change fast enough they are put down as legalistic.
We need to find a way to gather on the common ground and rejoice in that. Unity is not uniformity. Unity is not looking exactly the same. Unity is an acknowledgment that Christ is our only common ground.
3 ways to promote a center view
It’s easy to take sides. It’s more difficult to take a step back and acknowledge that another point of view may have merit.
- Be careful of words used. It’s so sad to me (and I see it in my own life too) when Christians use belittling words to talk to other believers. Comments like, “If you read the scriptures…” “Any student of the Word would see that…”. These types of phrases hurt unity. They create a bigger divide. Let’s try to use words that build up not tear down. James 3:9-12.
- Don’t assume motives. This has to be one of the easiest ways to stir up conflict. I can’t count how many times I see this happening. We don’t know what’s in people’s hearts (only Jesus does). Why do we think we do? Let’s assume the best of a person’s motives instead of automatically assuming the worst.
- Admit the good in others. Ouch, this is so tough to do. It’s not all or nothing. We can agree that the “other side” has some valid points. We don’t have to dismiss everything because we don’t agree on all the details.
Taking a more neutral stance
I suggest we take a more balanced approach. Instead of coming up with a list that everyone must agree with or else, let’s take each point at face value and look at the person as a whole.
I believe the Lord Jesus took a middle-ground approach on most subjects. He was able to acknowledge the left and right without compromising the truth. He wasn’t extreme. (Luke 20:25, John 8:7)
I believe we should follow His example and consider the good from both sides and use them instead of taking the whole side and adopting only 1 view.
Can we stop the mudslinging? Can we agree to find the good in other views? Can we look at others of different opinions in love and seek to build them up instead of hate and ostracizing?
Unity starts with me.
Photo by jean wimmerlin on Unsplash