Leading in a World Divided

By Andy Addis

It has been said that our lives today share one common distinctive: division.

You don’t have to tune into any news channel very long before you have evidence of this. Whether Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives – or the many divisions across the spectrum of sexual ethics, religious beliefs or even technology and its use – there are dividing lines, camps and a very clear “us versus you” mentality in almost every stream of life today.

All that division manifests itself in our lives on a continuum somewhere between fear and anger. Whether the division is in culture, our families or online, we are afraid to say what we believe or take a stance because of the backlash we will undoubtedly receive.

Or maybe it’s the anger that often bubbles over into rage because someone’s point of view is so offensive to you it feels destructive that it even exists out there in the ether.

Yes, we are divided. We are segmented. And we are positioned to hate one another.

But I wonder if there isn’t something a little more insidious at work here.

‘Division’ makes it sound like we are all separated and against one another – but look around. It’s not people that are divided, it’s groups of people. And their groups are bonding together, becoming tight-knit, focused, vocal and united in one thing: hatred of the other group.

That feels to me like the devil at work. The evil one is not separating us, so much as he is creating communities for us. And the problem is these communities are centered around the affirmation of our brokenness and the exaltation of our sinfulness.

They are being told “The church hates you,” but we love you. The Bible corrects you, but we affirm you. The God of this universe is far away, but we are here.

Jesus clearly warns us that the devil is not there for our good: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 ESV)

The culture has found a new path to subvert the good news of the kingdom by creating their own little churches and faith systems. They are attempting to model mission through passionate causes, fellowship via membership and tolerance, and salvation in deconstructing our past (including the gospel and faith) and reconstructing a new future (humanism and embracing lostness).

The world feels divided, but it’s actually being subdivided by worldly forces that mimic values and ethics in the form of idolatry to ideals and purposes far from God.

As the church of Jesus, we can’t play that game.

We have to be able to draw lines of right and wrong without calling those who disagree our enemies.

We must be able to empathize with those who struggle and truly feel wounded without condoning what God has condemned.

We must never write off anyone because of their stance, posts, beliefs, statements, attitudes or actions.

We must do the hard things:

  • Lead when others leave. We cannot abandon the Word of God or shift our thinking to fit the times. God is the same yesterday, today and forever – and His people must reflect that.
  • Listen when others ignore. When the world attempts to shout each other down, Christians must listen with compassion and hope. Our ears need to hear before our mouth is allowed to speak.
  • Love when others hate. We must never give in to the world’s games of division, abuse and hatred. We do not have to agree, and we do not have to condone, but we do have to love.

This is a divisive world, but only because it reflects the author of the Fall. The devil is the one who has come to steal, kill and destroy, but there is another word of Scripture you must remember:

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (Jas. 4:7 ESV)

This post originally appeared on the Rural Pastor blog.

Published June 21, 2024

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