Whether or not you believe the American culture is “more divided than ever” (and there are lots of people on both sides), it’s hard to ignore the divisive rhetoric that surrounds us these days. It seems like “getting along” shouldn’t be that tough, but it is.
The problem is trying to transform human division by human means. There’s little point in trying to “get along” when the tools we’re using are broken. I’m often shocked by the hubris that presumes that after thousands of years of human conflict, “this time we’ll get it right.” Why? Because we have smartphones? Solar power? Proton therapy? The reality is that despite advances in various technologies that give the impression of progress, we’re as spiritually broken as we ever were.
People are constantly insisting that human beings are “equal” but they rarely explain why, or how. In the first half of Ephesians 2, Paul lays out three ways that people, in all their variety, are united:
- We’re united in sin. This natural condition into which we’re born is something we all share, across all demographics of humanity.
- We’re united in God’s love. Of course if sin is common to all than God’s love in Christ is available to all.
- We’re united in God’s purpose. When we’re honest about our sinfulness and receive God’s love for us in Christ, he crafts us into a new humanity that can demonstrate his love to the world.
- Imagine someone very different from you. Include visible differences, like ethnicity and language, but also invisible differences like beliefs and values. Are you able to visualize that person and yourself as equals when it comes to being born in a sinful condition?
- Imagine the same person again, or perhaps a new person who is very different from you. Really challenge yourself to imagine someone whose values conflict with your own. Consider: God loves this person as much as God loves you.
- How might it change our perception of people, in all their variety, if we kept these universal commonalities in mind — that we’re all sinners, and we’re all loved by God?