Divided in Thought, United in Prayer
I rally for the things I believe in, and I mean that literally.
I attended my first rally in 2015. The particular cause for which I was rallying was a real doozy (and continues to be). As is the case with so many things in America these days, there were two clear sides. At this particular event, one side was rallying against what we believe to be an injustice; the other was there to protest the protesters.
In summation: nobody was happy.
The event’s organizers took turns sharing stories, giving speeches, lifting up prayers, and imploring people to continue to fight for justice. Behind this group were the protesters; they did not support the cause, and they were there to tell us so.
Signs abounded in both groups, big capital letters with bold declarations. There was no question of who stood for what. An invisible line down the middle of these groups created a clear division. I stood near the back of the group.
It was there that I got to witness something beautiful.
All of a sudden, the rigid line each party had drawn began to blur. A circle developed in the center of things, a sort of ‘no man’s land,’ but those among it had not turned to hurl insults or incite a debate. Rather, they faced one another and began to pray.
In the midst of all the divisiveness, the polarizing opinions, and beliefs, the hurt and fear, there was the Holy Spirit working still.
Nobody had changed their mind or foregone their convictions, and yet here they were coming together to call on the Lord to bring about healing and reconciliation.
They prayed for hope and for peace.
They prayed not that we would be unified in our thoughts, but in our ability to value life above all.
I believe in our freedom of speech. I believe in calling out what you perceive to be injustice and rising up against it. Greater still is my belief in our call to love the least of these and pray for those who persecute us. And above all, I believe that our number one priority in this life is to love God and love God’s people. Everything else is detail work.
The world continues to be polarized. Even within the church, there is division. We are always going to disagree on some of the details, but we should be able to find common ground in our big picture.
Let us stand united in valuing relationships over being right.
Let us remember that every person we interact with - whether they look like us or not, vote like us or not, pray like us or not at all – was created in the same likeness that we were.
We have in common the fact that we are beloved humans, imperfect but beautiful, united in our desire for love and acceptance.
We interact with people daily whose worldviews do not align with ours. When we are face-to-face (or facebook-to-facebook) with people who don’t share our convictions, it is so much easier to hunker down and stand our ground than it is to meet in the middle and offer grace. Rather than jumping to conclusions about all of the ways we are different or better, we should be searching for some common ground in an attempt to render a common good.
There is a song by The Brilliance that says, “When I look into the face of my enemy, I see my brother.” That is exactly what happened at the rally, and that is exactly what God calls us to do.
May we use our voices not as weapons but as instruments that pray for and uplift one another.
This story is part of a new sermon series, called The Wrong Way to Be Right. Over the next few weeks, we'll take a look at the human condition, why it's so hard to get along, and how we might work through our differences with new insight.