Last year was a very difficult year in many ways.
Our culture has been battered by one crisis after another: scandals, shootings, angry protests, and a constant barrage of mad pundits shouting at each other in the media 24 hours a day. Our nation is deeply polarized and fractured into splinter groups that demonize each other on the internet. And, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in violence in our streets, schools, theaters, and now even in churches.
We’ve seen the rise in vile bigotry, hateful racism, and ignorant prejudices against different cultures and immigrants—in a nation that was built by immigrants! I imagine the Statue of Liberty is weeping. And we’ve seen the videos and heard the voices of people genuinely hurt by injustice or poverty, or by having their job shipped overseas.
How should followers of Jesus respond to all the anger we see erupting today? How can God’s family, the church, be the “peacemakers” and the “ministers of reconciliation” that Jesus commands us to be? How do we build bridges to each other instead of walls around our hearts and homes? We can begin by loving like Jesus loved.
Here are five important ways to do just that.
Psalm 8:5 says, “God made people just a little lower than the heavenly beings, and he crowned us with glory and honor” (NIV). That means God created every person with dignity. To love others, we have to realize that we all have been given the same dignity. You can’t give it to someone. It comes from God. You can only deny or affirm it in others.
“Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity” (1 Peter 2:17 The Message).
God intentionally created everyone to be unique. You’re not one in a million, you’re one in seven billion. If you’ve got a problem with people who are different from you, you’ve got a problem with God. Racism, prejudice and bigotry are like telling God he messed up because he didn’t make everyone like you.
While people in the world are divided over their differences and diversity, the church is one place where people should get along. God doesn’t want us to be color blind, he wants us to be color blessed. We should celebrate diversity because it makes us stronger. If you don’t like diversity you’re not going to like heaven!
We need each other and we’re better together. God never intended for us to go through life alone, lonely, and without the support of other people. God wanted a family, but he wanted it to reflect diversity. “Jesus, who makes people holy, and those who are made holy are from the same family” (Hebrews 2:11 NCV).
The church should be the place of unity and community where we model the love of Christ for the world. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are brothers and sisters. Our primary identity comes from God, and all other affiliations will not be carried into heaven. We only carry our relationship with God and each other into eternity.
We were put on this earth to learn how to love. As Jesus says in the Great Commandment, it’s all about learning to love God and learning to love people. If you don’t learn that, you’ve missed your purpose on this planet. We can be agents of love with people who are completely different from us when we listen to them, look them in the eye, learn from them, and laugh with them.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to be facilitators of reconciliation. If we’re not helping people reconcile, we’re not the church. Mathew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God” (NIV).
If you want to hear more about any of these topics, I invite you to watch my interview with the founding father of the Christian reconciliation movement—the great pastor, civil rights leader, and best-selling author of a dozen very influential books, Dr. John Perkins! John has 86 years of wisdom working with these very issues.
My prayer is for spiritual revival and awakening for all of us. Society can’t keep heading the direction it is going right now, because it leads to a dead-end. Eventually, we’ll either have a spiritual breakthrough or a social breakdown.