Last week I was doing a little research on all the effects of 2020 on churches in the United States. According to Church Executive, there were some major issues that caused disagreements, divisions, and even people quitting. Here are a few of those issues (approximations by the numbers):
- 30% Were divided over worship style
- 20% Were divided over wearing masks
- 13% Were divided over conspiracy theories
- 10% Were divided over racial issues
- 6% Were divided over political issues
At first sight, those numbers aren’t too alarming considering our entire country seems to be divided over the same issues (excluding worship style). I suppose what bothers me is that in 2020 when the Church faced enormous pressure we reacted similar to how the world reacted. We had the same divisive reaction as a non-believing secular world did. Of course there were exceptions; however, according to this and other surveys, as a whole this was the case: The church responded just like the world did. We were fearful, divided, and seemingly self-seeking in nature.
Our Lord Jesus said we would be known for something specific:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34–35 (ESV)
Why would a world under pressure looking for answers ever look to the Church if we are reacting the same as they do? We are supposed to be different… right? The New Testament Church was known for their enduring faith under trials and even persecution. When a world pandemic hits, there should be a difference in the response of the world and the response of His church. Pressures and trials should lead us closer to our Lord and to His church. Our love for each other should bind and unite us, not cause division and walking away.
So here’s the question: Looking into our future, knowing the possibilities of future pressure and trials, what is going to be the difference between us the Church and people who don’t know Christ? We all decide. My hope is the world sees a difference when they look to us, His Church.