22 July 2016
Where there is strife let there be unity
Steve Uppal is senior leader at All Nations Christian Centre in Wolverhampton, is part of the One People Commission and is on the Alliance's Board and Council.
Turning on Radio 4 this week I heard a piece reflecting on Prime Minister's Questions in parliament, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn questioning Theresa May on jobs and May pointing to problems in his party and with his leadership.
Sadly, I have got used to the jeering, shouting and ridiculing that is common in much of the political debate that takes place. But I admit the last few weeks have been unusually surprising. It's been sad to see so much isolation, accusation, blame and disunity, with the problems ranging from the race issues in America, the hostility and fighting in the political parties, to the prejudice and discrimination in some of our own communities against ethnic minorities.
I am convinced that followers of Christ can and do make a difference in their spheres of influence. We either reflect and echo what is going on in the world around us, or we carry a "different spirit".
The Bible teaches us in Romans 12 not to be conformed to the world's way of thinking, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The first place this is to be demonstrated is within our own Christian communities and only then can it radiate out to the world in which we live. Living out the nature of Christ is true spiritual warfare.
There are three things that could be a helpful starting point.
Live with eternity in view
Our actions and words may be very different if we have an eternal perspective through which we view both the world and ourselves. Jesus said in Matthew 12 (The Message):
"Let me tell you something: Everyone of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously."
Not only our words but also our actions and motives are important: live them well, live them in the light of eternity.
The command given to the Levites in the Old Testament is also showing Christ followers today what God expects from us.
"At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to…to pronounce blessings in his name, as they still do today" Deuteronomy 10:8.
Proactively looking for opportunities to speak blessing, encouragement and life throughout our daily conversations is pleasing to God. This is both in our actual words but also in our social media world too.
Talk to God
When nations or communities are in trouble, the following scripture is a remedy and a pattern for prayer:
"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land" 2 Chronicles 7:14.
Instead of blaming, accusing or fault-finding, it is for Christ-followers to humbly talk to God, seek him and turn from any wrong ways. Before we talk to people it is important to speak to God. The promise is that God hears and will answer by healing the land.
We must be careful to live the answer to Jesus' prayer for us in John 17:
"I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
The Radio 4 news report concluded by these words being quoted: "Where there is strife let there be harmony".