The Spirit of God unites people and religion divides people. This statement sums up what is happening in the world today when religion goes painfully wrong and people get hurt. How sad that Rev. Terry Jones decided to burn the Koran causing riots and death to innocent people from the UN. How sad that the Westboro Baptist church hurts so many people during their funeral protests. They do this as a way of making a statement against gay people in this country. When beliefs are such that the people holding those beliefs justify hurt and destruction then things have gone far from the holy intent of religion. We shake our heads in disgust and disbelief.
But do we not do the same thing when we reject and hurt people with our words over controversial issues that arise in our churches? When there are divisions and painful arguments in church over anything whatsoever we have convicted ourselves of hypocrisy. Paul says in I Corinthians 6:7-8 “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead you yourselves cheat and do wrong and you do this to your brothers.”
Instead of engaging in controversy and disagreement, put energy into doing the things that make for the unity of the body. The fruit of the Spirit gives love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22). Peace and unity among people of faith is the greatest witness we have to the love of Christ in this world.
How can you wage peace in turbulent times in your church? If we can’t do it here in our churches then we have no room to judge others stirring up controversy and pain in this world.
Read more reflections by Bishop Peggy Johnson on her blog: