“The Presbyterian Church has been sharply divided over homosexuality, including the question of gay marriages, for more than 30 years.” My series on the controversy around same-sex marriages continues with this quote from the April 26 edition of the Santa Rosa (CA) Press Democrat newspaper. As you may know by now, I am presenting a sequence of posts, focusing on three newspaper articles which told the tale of the latest battle of principles within the Presbyterian Church, with the Rev. Jane Spahr being in the center of the turmoil.
That brief extract from the short newspaper article conveys a very clear message; the Presbyterian Church is a church divided against itself. What does this tell us about Christianity and the relationship of fellow believers? To an outsider, Christians must look like a dysfunctional family. Is that the kind of image we really want to portray? Is that the kind of image that will entice others to join the family? Is that the kind of image Jesus wants us to put forth? Read His words and know the truth about how Jesus feels about relationships within His family.
“Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.’” (Matthew 12:25)
And Jesus prayed for His family, “…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:21-23)
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35) If we call ourselves Christian, yet do not truly love one another, doesn’t that provide outsiders with a false image of Christianity? However, if we indeed love each other, Christianity will stand out as truly different and attractive. Might this be partly why Jesus focused so much on the command of love?
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:12-14)
Not only Jesus, but His apostles also had a lot to say on the topic:
“Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged.” (James 5:9)
“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.” (1 Peter 3:8)
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (Romans 14:19)
“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” (1 Corinthians 1:10)
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3)
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'” (James 4:6)
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14)
Jesus must feel strongly about unity within His church. He provides not only His opinion, but also the solution – humility. A tall order for our egocentric race, yet something to pray about.
“Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name – the name you gave me – so that they may be one as we are one.” (John 17:11b)