I don’t know about you, but the past two months have been some of the worst I have seen in my lifetime.
Rarely have I witnessed so much unrestrained hate and vitriol on social media. Shouting matches, offensive retorts and extreme profanity were not an uncommon sight.
One professor went as far as to call for the “miserable deaths” and torture of senators in a grotesquely graphic and violent way, while celebrities cursed off our elected officials with the foulest language.
Even if you were off social media, you couldn’t escape the chaos. It followed us into our workplaces, churches and homes and even invaded our most intimate relationships. It pitted men against women, conservatives against liberals, celebrities against politicians — you name it.
At some point, we lost sight of how to engage with each other in a sincere pursuit of truth. We worked feverishly to prove ourselves right, but we didn’t make an effort to understand each other.
Whatever your inclination on the whole issue — whether the confirmation should or should not have taken place — our infighting has left America divided more than ever before. It has left us more hurt, more tribalized and more cynical than ever before.
Sadly, when our opinions become more important than people, we all lose relationally.
So how do we move forward from here?
I believe there’s now one — and only one — way forward for America: we must pray earnestly for unity and work intentionally toward reconciliation.
It’s incumbent upon the church of Jesus Christ to be a force of unity, love and civility both within and without. Jesus appealed to us that we are to be distinguished from others by one thing alone: our love.
“Love one another, just as I have loved you,” he instructed his disciples (John 13:34).
In fact, Jesus took it a step further and taught us that we ought to love and pray for not only those who agree with us but also those who oppose us. He put it this way:
‘If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that?’, and ‘If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?’ Matthew 5:46-47
But it has to start with us, the followers of Jesus Christ. The fellowship within each of our churches and our fellowship together as Christ-followers needs to be one that binds us together in love and unity.
This does not grant us a permission slip for moral compromise or an excuse for not standing strongly for our convictions. We have these and should have these even in this turbulent moment in history. But, in the following days and weeks, as tensions will continue to flare up across America, our greatest force needs to be the constancy of Christ’s love in and through us.
And remember: It is never enough just to do the right thing, but we must do the right thing in the right way.
If we want to see unity in America, we cannot only talk about it. We have to live it out — in our workplaces, our churches, our homes and in our own relationships. A divided church cannot call a divided nation to unity.
I hope that if you’re reading this you will take it to heart and resolve to pray for our nation’s unity and to work for reconciliation. We are only as strong as we are united.
Ronnie Floyd is the senior pastor of Cross Church and president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. He is the author of “Living Fit: Make Your Life Count by Pursuing a Healthy You” (B&H Books). Follow him @ronniefloyd.