I do not mean to speak lightly about the casualties of COVID-19. Globally, it has been a disaster for the human race. I acknowledge that many are left in deep pain over the losses in their homes.
There are many casualties of COVID … but one I am not sure we’ve paid attention to is the unity to which Christians are called. The pandemic has set us all on edge and in some congregations it has delivered a fatal blow.
Just scrolling through the social media of Christians and hearing reports from across the nation, I am caught by surprise. Examples?
- Christians who refuse to attend worship because the congregation is observing the mask mandate of the Governor.
- Arguments that break out over whether or not to be vaccinated. I’m not talking about expressing opinions – we can learn from one another. But I’ve seen too many seek to ridicule and embarrass those who disagree.
- I read of a minister who was fired because he asked parishioners to wear masks.
- There are those who say crude things about those who choose not to wear masks.
- Some have been at home alone for so long that they are no longer interested in being with other Christians.
- Members who made it hard on church leadership teams who were doing their best to keep the congregation as safe as possible.
- Church leaders who have pressed congregants into gathering when they didn’t feel comfortable doing so yet.
- People flinging Bible verses at one another (from any perspective) to try to crush their opponent (and fellow Christian) with the Word of God.
It’s my guess that if you have been on social media at all, you’ve seen these things happening. More, the entire world has watched this play out among Christians. So, our witness to the lost world may be a casualty of COVID. But in many cases, the unity that we talk about has taken a fatal blow. We’ve rejected unity and embraced a crass and casual weapon of words.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.Ephesians 4:3-6, NIV
I realize someone may even think I’m using that verse as a weapon. I mean it as an appeal to build up, not to destroy. Our world has been upside down for a year and there is a lot of anger attached to that. But I am to make every effort. I must focus on the one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God … these things call me to be united with all who believe in them. Even those who differ with me in the details of life.
I’ve seen enough angry fingerprinting and belligerent name calling. Really. Nothing forces me to keep reading the things that discourage me so much, so I don’t.
Finding and keeping unity has always been hard, but it’s worth the effort. It is what God has called us to pursue.