Dear Assurance Family:
Every four years, during our General Election cycle, I hear the same word: Contentious. As in, “this was a very contentious election,” or “there is a very contentious electorate this year.” I hear it every four years no matter the candidates, and I often wonder if we use this word in an exaggerative manner for television and radio ratings. Aren’t all elections contentious?—A word that means argumentative or controversial or combative, etc. It’s been that way since the founding of our great nation. People disagree and disagree passionately because they have strongly held beliefs. However, something was indeed different this election cycle. Yes, there were the usually quarrelsome and hot-blooded arguments, but there was also something else, something much deeper and concerning. I often hear it called in the media as “the divide.”
Our country is indeed divided. This much is clear. Yet today, I want to offer two other words. These words are love and unity. Over the last three weeks, and concluding this Sunday, we have been going through the very concept of loving God and loving neighbor with our series “Love Divine.” I believe that all of us desire unity. Yet, we cannot truly have unity until we love. The two work together. Of course, we can be united against one another. That happens all of the time! Yet, is that true unity? Is that the kind of unity that God desires? Obviously not. The desire God has is for a unity with its foundation found in love—the love that comes from the divine One himself.
The Apostle Paul once said that “in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This statement may not seem that radical to us today, but for first century readers it was beyond radical. Paul was saying that all of the identifiers of who we were as people before Christ must now submit to the new reality of who we are in Christ. And that is my hope for all of us today. We may be divided as a country, and even divided in our communities or neighborhoods, but as we look to the cross and the empty tomb, we see that love is reaching out and calling us to a unity beyond these divisions.
I want all of you to know that I love you. I am serious. I love each and every one of you.
I love you if you are a Republican.
I love you if you are a Democrat.
I love you if you are an Independent.
I love you if you don’t like any of those labels.
I love if you just want to move on.
I love you because God loves you.
I love you because in the midst of our politically charged environment, I desire unity. A true unity inspired only by the love that we call divine.
I hope that this Sunday at 8:15am, 9:30am, 11:00am (Northlake), or 11:11am (Connections), you will join with me, and all of Assurance, as a united people praising Jesus Christ in the spirit of love.