‘A Divided Nation Is a Tragedy. But a Divided Church Is a Travesty. It’s Time For the Body of Christ To Get Back on Mission’: Ed Stetzer on Reconciling the Church After the Great Divide of 2016

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Have you allowed election speech to replace the speech of the ‘elect’?

The 2016 American presidential election divided the nation and many churches in a way that is unprecedented. It may seem like a long time ago, but the effects linger, often continuing to cause deeper wounds than we know.

The nation, it appears, is becoming more divided right now. As it does, I’m hoping the church can become more united—even as the politics of our nation polarize.

But, it is in the church as well, so let’s start there.

We have a lot of work to do to regain our civility, reconcile with our brothers and sisters, and establish peace in the Body of Christ. The world is watching, and they were pelted by the mud we threw. They saw us ostracize people who voted for “the other guy.” They heard us call people “Satanic.”

Now that it is over, we must learn from the chaos and mend relationships. If we do not, we further damage our witness in a world that is short on love and truth and long on hate and lies. It is long past time to deescalate. Here are a few things I believe we need to do to heal the disunity and move forward as a healthier Body of Christ.

Leave the political rhetoric to the political operatives

The Church has a mission. Pushing political agendas is not that mission.

We are ambassadors, calling people to a right relationship with God through Christ. We have opinions on various issues, and even biblical positions on some of those issues. But we are not here primarily to debate healthcare reform or immigration policy. In the field of politics, there might be a space for rhetoric and characterizations, but this is not so in the Church.

We aren’t here to bully people into our way of thinking with insincere speech. We offer Christ, mercy, love, peace, and truth. There is little to no room for these elements in American politics, and we must not be willing to leave them at the door because we want to join the fray. There is a Savior, and there is an enemy. And neither of these are named Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. The person serving next to you in the usher team is not the spawn of Satan because he or she voted for the person you voted against.

So we need to quit treating them as such. If they are purchased with the blood of Christ, they have the same access to the Father you do.

If you have allowed election speech to replace the speech of the “elect,” repent now. It’s not too late to shake off the dust of 2016 and get back on point.

Don’t use your pulpit to push policy

This is specifically directed toward leaders. It is good and even important to have ideas and positions on certain matters. You should be able to speak wisely and intelligently into matters of great importance. People look to you to help them form a biblical and Christian worldview.

But the pulpit should not become a political stump, and we cannot misuse our position just to score points. We as Christian leaders should have a compassionate approach to the unborn, immigration, and other social issues. These things are dealt with in scripture, but they are not always as simplistic as we like to make them. The same Bible that commands us to care for the least of these also tells us that if a man refuses to work, he should not eat. It takes care to bring clarity, and sound bites typically don’t cut it.

In other words, we need to be speaking on these things from a balanced biblical perspective, not as if we are the spokesperson for Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump.

If people now see you as a political pundit rather than a minister of the gospel, repent and preach the word.

Quit painting your brothers and sisters in Christ with a broad brush

Your Sunday School teacher is not a default racist because she voted for Trump. Your children’s worker is not a default abortion promoted because he voted for Hillary. (And, your brother-in-law does not necessarily smoke weed because he voted for Gary Johnson.)

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SOURCE: Christianity Today The Exchange – Ed Stetzer
Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, is Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.