The world has just witnessed the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States of America. Much of the commentary surrounding this historic event has highlighted how the supposed “united” America is more divided than ever, creating the need for the new President to unite this country. Competing throngs of supporters and protesters seem to bear this out, not to mention the results of the election itself. Yet if, like me, you are old enough and can remember even just a few of our past presidential inaugurations, you will be experiencing some level of deja vu. The reality is that every American election cycle is simply a reminder of how deeply divided this country really is.
It’s understandable that people desire to unify around their particular nationality. Being “proud to be an American,” or wherever your earthly citizenship lies, simply communicates the strong sense of identity we can find in our heritage. But the truth is that Americans, nor any other group of people, will ever find the true unity we seek. Americans will always be divided over our very definitions of what America has been, is, and should become. We will differ on every policy issue under the sun. We will keep on experiencing regional differences, contrasting lifestyles, and of course, multiple religious viewpoints that oppose one another. Even if we could somehow all agree that we should be Americans first, and then just agree to disagree on everything else, this quickly breaks down when problems arise. So we have to ask ourselves: Is a unified America really the goal we should be seeking, especially when it isn’t even achievable?
Thankfully, we have true unity in Jesus Christ. This must be the battle cry of the Christian to a world that longs for unity! True unity comes when we are in a relationship with the same person–the only person who can save us from our sins. When our children and young people are discouraged by all the division that is inevitably on display as a new president takes the helm, we point them to the only One who can unify. Human beings will never unify around another human being, a set of policies, or a certain philosophy of life. As powerful as a shared ethnicity or language or culture is, there will always be multiple divisions there as well. Only the Holy Spirit is powerful enough to connect disparate individuals into functioning members of the Body of Christ.
Yet, if your children or teenagers are sharp and paying attention, they may challenge you on this Biblical truth. How can we say that they only way to unify is in Christ? Have you not studied he history of Christianity? What about the thousands of denominations in the Christian Church? And, Christians certainly are divided over all sorts of theological doctrines and practices too. It may be a nice sentiment that Christ unifies us, but sinful human beings don’t seem to live out that reality very well. Maybe the atheists and sundry “tolerant” spiritualists are right–Christianity is really the most divisive system of all.
Since our human experience doesn’t usually match up with reality, we must always teach the next generation what true unity is all about. Unity is a fact that is accomplished in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He alone makes his true followers ONE by the power of the Spirit, connected to Him as our HEAD. Christians are unified by the fact that we are all adopted children of God. Christians are unified by the reality that we will all live forever with one another in heaven. Christians are truly united in our singular love for the Savior of our souls. As the apostle Paul says, there is “one body, one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all…” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
Then, based on that objective reality of true unity that we have as Christians, it is still always the responsibility of individuals to live that out. Also in Ephesians, Paul exhorts the church to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of piece” (Ephesians 4:3). A few verses later, Paul describes that true unity is something that is directly connected to Christian maturity:
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ… (Ephesians 4:12-13)
So as your family watches the first hundred days of a new administration unfold, you will continue to see and hear of the deep divisions in our nation and our world. Capitalize on that longing for unity with ongoing training of your children as to the true nature of gospel unity. Exhort them to live out that reality with one another, in the home, church, school, and community. The best witness Christians always have is when brothers and sisters live together in unity! And finally, point your children to the eternal hope of the true unity we will have in heaven, forever enjoying Christ as his perfectly unified people!