“We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord…And we pray that all unity will one day be restored. And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
Hearing these words from our students each week this year at the close of chapel (based upon our theme of unity from Ephesians 4) has been a great encouragement to me. It represents the work I pray the LORD is doing in the hearts of our young people here at Central Christian School, as we seek to instill in them a passion for God, a love of Truth, and a zeal to serve.
But the events of this past week threaten this message of unity in the body of Christ. After a long, divisive and polarizing election season, we have found ourselves in a very difficult period in our nation’s history that is playing out in many parts of our lives, including in schools across the country. Central Christian School is not immune to these challenges.
In relationship to our students, many of our teachers have shared with us their intentional and thoughtful conversations they had after the elections to set expectations for Christ-like interactions when it comes to differences of opinion. Please pray with us as we continue to emphasize that, in our differences, Christ is our unifier as our rock and our foundation as the events and feelings surrounding this election season continue to unfold.
Reading news feeds and social media posts, listening to TV commentators, and talking with friends, colleagues and school parents, I have found myself counseling and listening to many who are hurt and fearful this week. I have observed two developing themes among Christians, both of which are represented in our Central Christian School community.
First, I have learned that a large part of the Christian community at Central is hurting. They fear what is to come. They feel isolated and confused by the outcome of the election.
Secondly, a large part of the Christian community feels judged. They fear being labeled and the assumptions that may accompany their voting choice.
Maybe you recognize or resonate with one of these positions. Regardless, my prayer is that some part of you values and even enjoys exposure to differences. We believe God has blessed us with diversity as a means…not an end. Our differences are a means to bring glory to God, because as we walk together, we rub against each other, and that friction shapes us and changes us and gives us an others’ centered-orientation so that together we can impact a hurting world for Christ.
The events of this past week will undoubtedly challenge our witness for Jesus Christ –both within the school community and the greater St. Louis Community. It will require trust in God’s goodness and sovereignty rather than surrendering to fear to move toward those with whom we disagree. It will require face-to-face conversations to clarify our assumptions and understand each other’s perspectives. It will require courage and humility to heal and restore our relationships. That is the biblical principle the LORD gave us in Matthew 18—the call of a Peacemaker. And that is the witness I am encouraging all of us to model as a school community going forward.
God has blessed us with this Central community, and there are people within it with whom you can engage. I am one of them, but I am not the only one. There is growth and intimacy awaiting us, but we must be willing and loving.
Pray for us as we work with our students on how to navigate the differences they see so clearly. We want to teach them courage but struggle to do so when we, ourselves, fear or don’t have practice exercising our courage. Know with confidence that we stand on the call of Scripture that tells us all we need to know in regard to engaging one another:
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”—1 Peter 3:8
“No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” 1 Corinthians 10:24
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” —1 Thessalonians 5:11
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”–Galatians 6:2
“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”– Romans 14:13
“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”— Isaiah 1:17
I pray that these words are received with the humility and heart that are behind them. God be with us during this time.