The Great Commission theme for August has challenged me to think about my contributions to discipleship as well as the reasons for the great divide we experience within the Christian community. When I consider the great price that Jesus Christ has paid for our salvation, the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit, and the gift of the Bible we have been given to walk out the Christian life on this earth, I begin to ponder how the divide became so great.
I was recently studying Genesis and I walked away with a revelation I had not observed before. Much of the teaching I have been exposed to portray the garden was a sterile environment with no evil. Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the day and were unaware of the evil in the garden. Satan was in the garden, but they could not see the evil. This is the reason God told them they could eat from any tree within the garden, except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When they ate of the fruit their eyes were opened to the evil and their first response was fear, shame, to cover with fig leaves, and hide from God. The environment did not change, but their response did because now they could see the evil.
The Secular/Sacred Divide
Our Heavenly Father knew what a distraction and temptation our knowledge of good and evil would be. For me, it is easy to focus on what is wrong with society or reject those who look, act, or think differently than I do. However, this is not the way Jesus modeled for us. He did not run from the evil. He stood firm on the foundation of truth and brought order to the disorder. However, our natural tendency is to run from the evil and gravitate to the environments which make us feel comfortable and secure. This tendency creates one of the most common divisions in Christianity, the secular/sacred divide.
When we label activities as secular, such as work, companies, objects, etc. we are contributing to the division. We see other activities such as our quiet times, church attendance, missions work, etc, as sacred, which also contribute to this divide. The Apostle Paul states in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” This shift in perspective is a major step to bridging the secular/secular divide.
The Cultural Tensions Divide
The cultural tensions we experience in society today are the result of differences of opinion, race, ideology, theology, etc. We need to look no further than the life of Jesus to understand how we, as followers of Jesus should handle situations when we are exposed to those that are different in looks, thoughts, or actions. The story of the woman at the well found in John 4 is a great example of bridging the divide of cultural tensions and walking out the Great Commission. The woman in the story was a Samaritan with a questionable past. Many of the ism’s we experience today such as racism, sexism, etc. were present in this story, but Jesus bridged the divide and she became a believer and her testimony convinced many in her community to become followers of Jesus.
We have a great opportunity to live a countercultural lifestyle that was modeled for us by Jesus. I am encouraged as I read the story of the Samaritan woman and see how Jesus handled the cultural divide and the positive results that were manifest. This is truly a story that could easily be applied to our culture today and yet we as the Church seem to fail to apply this teaching to our Christian community. We experience many of the same divides of racism, sexism, denominationalism, etc. within our churches as we do in society. We should be setting the example of building bridges instead of creating bigger divides.
Bridging the Great Divide
We have a choice each day to apply the truth of God’s Word to our lives and build bridges as disciples of Jesus. The application of this truth is very different than what the world tells us our position should be. I am encouraged when I read what the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:14-16, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Be encouraged today as we press on toward the goal and live a lifestyle of discipleship that will positively influence our circle of influence beginning with our personal relationship with Jesus and those in our family, work, church, and community.
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Jamie Jordan is the State Director for the South Carolina Christian Chamber of Commerce (SC-C3). His passion is to see unity and excellence exhibited within the Christian community. Jamie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.