Did you hear that?
No? It’s the sound of a blaringly obvious message from our Lord Jesus being ignored by entire generations of professing Christians. I guess you wouldn’t have heard it, because you were too busy being angry that Biden is president. Or too busy celebrating that Biden is President. Or maybe you were in the middle of telling your Catholic neighbor that their theology is wrong, or talking behind the backs of the people in your congregation who are a bit too charismatic for your taste.
Hopefully you read that paragraph and think “Well, I thought Adam was a relatively smart guy, but he got that all wrong, I’m none of those things.” But I have a hunch that for many of you, there’s a sprinkle of truth in there somewhere. I know for me there is. And since I’m not the only sinner on the metaphorical playing field, I think it’s time we all spend a minute or two listening for that message.
Now if you’re not the kind of person to bring your Bible with you to go web surfing, then now would be a good time to either open up another browser tab or grab that slightly worn bible you love because I am not planning to paraphrase His message for you. Find your way to the gospel of John, then thumb through it until you get to chapter 17. Take your time in reading verses 20-26, and then come on back. I’ll be waiting for you.
(this is the part where the critic in me says “Adam you just told them to stop reading, do you really think they’ll come back?” and I say in return “Well, if they don’t, at least they got distracted by the word of God, and that’s about the best case scenario anyway, so it’s a win-win, right?”)
Oh hi, I didn’t realize you came back. I hope you caught on to what Jesus was saying there. Because if not, the rest of the article will not make too much sense to you. Jesus is imploring God, His heavenly Father and yours, that all of those whom He gave to Jesus be one just as He is one with the Father. He is clear that he gave us the glory that He was given, so that He might be in us as He is in the Father and that we may be brought into unity through the process. 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 tells us that “we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
If we aren’t focused on the unity that the Lord Jesus wants for us, then we are looking at the very face of Christ and saying, “the blood you shed for me is not important enough for me to change.” And I don’t know about you, but if I stop for even a moment to think about what the God-Man suffered so that I can be reconciled to Him, I can’t think of any bigger a reason to look beyond the differences in other people. Especially in considering how diligent God is in His word telling us to do so.
From as early as Leviticus God tells his people “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18). And though the Israelites had in mind that He meant fellow Israelites when He said “neighbor,” I believe, because Jesus said so, that He had a bigger picture in mind than that. Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan to answer the “who is my neighbor” question that a man of the law puts to him in the gospel of Luke. It’s a parable that challenges the cultural norms of the day and makes a Samaritan the hero figure. We know looking back at the exposition that it was a narrative about Jesus Himself and that we are the broken, beaten man on the road, and that the priest and Levite represent, amongst other things, religion, secular society, essentially the world et al and we need to view all people as equal.
That means that yes, black lives matter. But not even remotely more than white lives. That means that women should not be oppressed. But men should not be either. We are all equal before God, every single one of us. No one is any better or worse and the minute you start to think that somehow you are even one iota better than your neighbor, you have completely lost touch with reality.
As Christians we have to realize something big about ourselves and the world. And we are uniquely able to notice it because of the Spirit being indwelt within us. That big thing is our fallen nature. That we are so very truly broken. If there was a ladder to the top, we would all be sitting at the bottom. Not a single man or woman alive or dead would be even one step up that ladder on their own. So imagine for a second my brothers and sisters that you stand shoulder to shoulder with Billy Graham, Mother Theresa, Adolf Hitler and Jack the Ripper. Without the atoning sacrifice of Christ, all five of you are the same: damned for eternity to a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
So hold fast to the Lord, and hear His words, His call for unity. Rise above this bizarre “wokeness” of our culture. Rise past the petty differences in liturgy and theology. Rise beyond political lines to the one who is on the true throne. The leader who will never need to worry about a rigged election because He does not ever go up for re-election. He is the Lord from before time began until after time ceases and He is the one in whom we rest our weary heads. He calls us to love our neighbors, and to be united to Him. And anything you can come up with as a reason to keep anyone at arms length is secondary to the unyielding love of God that we don’t deserve, didn’t earn and will never be good enough for.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying not to have an opinion about politics. Please do. Jesus had plenty of opinions about the ruling order of His day. What I’m saying is, don’t let that opinion get in the way of the love you are meant to show to those who are different from you. We all have a plank in our eye. And we would do well to worry about that far more than we do the spec in our brothers’ and sisters’ eyes. Every single member of the human race is a likeness of the image of God. and that matters infinitely more than anything else.
Adam Sculnick — Sinner, Saint, Servant. Executive Director of CIA Boys Club, loving husband, proud father of 3 and author. Adam has a passion for the spreading of God’s word, the raising up of leaders young and old and an affinity for sharing all that he’s learned. Follow him @ciaboysclub