Beyond a City Divided

Beyond a City Divided

Author: Mark Fenstermacher
November 05, 2020

*(This article is being written on the afternoon of November 4th, when ballots are still being cast and the winner of the Presidential election has not yet been announced. It is important for you to know that so you understand this call to unity is not written in response to the election results. -Mark)*

In the advertisement for something called "Flex Tape", the "pitchman" takes a chainsaw, cuts a small aluminum fishing boat in half, applies Flex Tape, and then takes the boat out on a lake. The boat that has been cut in half holds together (at least for awhile) as it speeds across the water.

As our exhausted nation collapses across the finish line of this political season, it feels like we are a boat that has been cut in half. If there were a kind of tape that would put us back together, helping Democrats and Republicans rediscover all that holds them together as fellow citizens of a nation where there is freedom and justice for all, we should order a couple million boxes of the stuff.

How do we put our country back together? Will we be forever a house divided against itself (Abraham Lincoln) or is there a way forward together?

Some, both on the left and the right, despair of that possibility. They have so dug in their heels, so demonized those on the other side of the political divide, that they may find it difficult to let go of the political cudgel they have wielded during this sad season.

I remain hopeful because, at some level, the dream of one nation with liberty and justice for all is in our DNA. And I am hopeful because God is at work to bring God's people together. In fact, one of the defining characteristics of the Jesus community is unity in Christ.

John Wesley, the founder of the reform movement known as Methodism, preached a sermon titled "Scriptural Christianity" in which he talked about what a Christian nation...a Christian city...looks like. He says it is a land where the love of God is "shed abroad" in the hearts of the people (Romans 5:5), where people love their neighbor not just in word but "in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:18).

The Christian city or nation is a place of peace where there is unity. The people are "united in one body, by one Spirit." If you look into their hearts, Wesley preached, you will "see that only love and God are there."

How do we put our nation back together? Here is what I believe:

  • Pray. (You might try praying that God would first change your heart...before you ask God to work on the other person.)
  • Take the first step...be the initiator of the healing. (We will each be the answer we are looking for.)
  • See the other person through the eyes of Jesus as one of God's lambs. (Yeah, I mean that guy...the person you can't stand.)
  • Speak only the truth in love. Do NOT pass on lies, conspiracies, and "facts" generated by partisan actors or foreign governments. (Stop using the stuff strangers post on social media as if it is fact. Consult respected news sources. If you don't find multiple respected, legitimate news sources behind a story, then let it go. Some people still think the world is flat, the moon landing was a hoax, and Elvis is touring. The nonsense on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites is poisoning our national life.)
  • Lower your volume.
  • Know you don't know it all. "They" are not all wrong and you are not all right. (I suspect each side of the political conversation, on many points, may see some truth that could help us find the right answers to the big problems facing us.)
  • Remember that what unites us is, ultimately, more important than what divides us. (Patriotism isn't about defeating the neighbor but working together for the greater good.)
  • Let the love of God control you. (Jesus commands us to love one another as we have been loved. It's not a suggestion or a recommendation: it's a command.)

Flex Tape won't put us back together, but I believe the Holy Spirit—working through each of us—can get the job done.

Whoever wins this election, I am praying for them. They will be my President...they will be our President.

An old praise chorus says "Weave us together, Lord, weave us together in unity and love."

That's the song I'm singing tonight.

Grace and peace,
Mark

Join us this Sunday in person or on-line at 8:30 or 11 as we begin our series of messages SHINING OUT! Will you be someone, by your words, actions, prayers and the use of your money who will shine the light of God's love out into the world?


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