Editor's Note: This is the first of two columns discussing the boundaries between people.
There is much in this society that divides us – like politics, ideologies, and theologies. There is much in this world that seeks to take us away from God – like pride, ego, and arrogance among other things.
The gap between individuals and groups of people continues to widen. Individuals gravitate toward those who are of like mind. They solidify their opinions and become like cement – thoroughly mixed up and set in stone.
There is a tendency in human nature for people to be drawn to those of like-minded thoughts and beliefs. This is one reason for so much division in the world. Different nationalities, different allegiances, different systems of government, different political parties and ideologies, different Christian denominations, different religions.
Conflicts start because of conflicting stances on various matters. If two or more do not agree – they tend to become enemies. Walls are erected – whether physical or emotional. And if the differences are great enough, there is a desire to destroy that which is different.
Human nature rarely puts up with disunity or differing points of view. It upsets the equilibrium. People crave a sense of unity, of belonging – as long as it’s in line with “my” personally held beliefs. If you don’t agree with “me” you are not only wrong – you are less of a human being. And there is a good chance you are now my enemy.
I firmly believe we need to learn to agree to disagree and live together in such a way that will build relationships instead of tear them down. But that is a pretty tall order and difficult to achieve because there is another part of human nature that gets in the way. I will write about that next week.
It is essential to remember that God’s Holy Spirit has the ability to cross any boundaries that people erect between each other. His Holy Spirit is the unifying presence among his creation – if and when people will stop to listen and comprehend, if and when we will realize God is to be the main focus in life. God brings unity even among diversity.
Our unity in Jesus Christ is what matters most in this life. The clubs you might belong to, the organizations of which you are a part, your political affiliation, are nowhere near the importance of your faithfulness to Jesus Christ.
When everything else in life is stripped away, the only thing left will be your relationship with God through Jesus. He is the one that gives life, and wholeness, and purpose. He is the one who unites us – even when we may not wholly agree on everything.
Let us learn to agree to disagree without belittling, without condemning. Let us learn to agree to disagree with an attitude of learning and growing.
Let us lean on the ways of Jesus Christ.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.