"While our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." 1 Corinthians 12:24-26 NIV
Recently, I asked some people what was a burning question that might keep them up at night. One person responded the issue of polarization kept him up at night. He believed that as a society, we have the ability and the resources to come together on issues, or at least to politely agree to disagree. However, instead he saw more and more the wider division of society, instead of possible unity, or at the least, civility.
I thought about the things that divide us. There are so many things that divide us. Are you a cat or dog person? That can be a division. Are you a Republican, Democrat or independent? That, of course, is a prevalent division especially in this presidential election year. Are you a carnivore, vegetarian, gluten intolerant or a vegan? This is certainly a dividing factor, especially at meal time. The list goes on and on of what divides us.
However, I don't think the division between carnivores and vegetarians is what is keeping the respondent up at night. I think what is keeping him up at night is his concern of how he experiences a prevailing sense in society that one opinion is the right opinion and that right opinion needs to be defended -- maybe even to a hurtful conclusion. Is there a reason the chasm of division is so wide there is no bridge long enough to allow us to live peaceably together?
I will leave it to someone much smarter than I to answer the question of the reasons of our division in the 21st century. I will, however, offer a way for us to bridge the gaps that divide us. Finding our commonality is a beginning to building the bridge. Starting with the fact we are all created in God's image and God declares it good is a way to begin to build the bridge. The bridge building continues as we remember we are brothers and sisters in Christ, and as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12, all of us are important and equal and serve a vital role in the body of Christ. No one is more important than the other. We need everyone for it to be complete and functioning properly.
What would happen if we began to look at our differences as a gift? What if we looked at our differences as a starting point for dialogue, understanding and appreciation for what each other can bring to this world? What would happen if we began to build the bridge with Christ's command to love our neighbor as ourselves? Maybe the respondent's burning question that keeps him up at night no longer would exist. Maybe the world would be a better place to live. However, I know for sure, we would be living how Christ calls us to live, loving one another as we first have been loved.
May your month be filled with opportunities to build bridges of love and understanding instead of chasms of dividing differences.
Lesley Radius is pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, www.trinityhays.org.