Truthfully, prior to 2000 I remember few details of the presidential elections. While interested, I was young enough that most of it fell beyond my grasp of understanding or impact of me personally. Even the 2000 election yield little of my attention. My point in sharing that is to say that my perspective of presidential elections is incomplete and therefore limited. While limited, I remember more of the election cycles when President Obama was elected. For years I have carried with me two promises that he made that are never referenced today. In both instances those promises went unmet.
Why bring this up now, especially considering that most presidents fail to follow through with many of their campaign promises? Because one of those failed promises has a direct impact upon where our society stands today. His promise was to unify the people, walking across political barriers for the sake of working together. After an election that saw the nation cast its vote in a nearly equal fashion for the two primary candidates (46% and 48% according to the popular vote) we can be certain that we are a divided nation.
The last several months have been marred by conflict, protests, and antagonism. A safe conclusion is to say that we are more divided now than we were eight years ago. While we should refrain from speculating too much about what the future holds, neither have we been given reason to be optimistic that those divisions will be bridged. We are left with the question: How can we bring unity in light of the deep divides that exist?
The problem with the secular search for answers is that it neglects to get at the source of our issues. Our divisions are not political, religious, ideological, or whatever division one wants to call it. The issue is an issue of the heart and the secular world is not equipped to rightly deal with matters of the heart. In fact, there is only one way to adequately deal with the heart in such a way that brings unity and that is found through the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The reality is that there is nothing in the strength and repertoire of human initiative capable of transforming and uniting humans. This discord can only be conquered by something supernatural. Reading through Scripture reveals just how the gospel brings both equality and unity in the following ways:
- Sexually (Genesis 3; Proverbs 31; Ephesians 5): There is great concern about a gender gap within our society, but Scripture establishes for us the importance of both men and women. It is true that roles and functions are different as presented by the Bible, but this should not be taken as one under is more valuable than the other.
- Socially, Economically (Leviticus 19:13; Acts 10:34-35; James 2:1-13): I hate to link social and economic divisions together, yet in class systems around the world this is exactly what is done. They are often tied together. However, both the Old Testament and New Testaments condemn favoritism towards either the poor or the rich. We can certainly say that the financial worth of individuals varies from person to person, when people are looked at through the lens of the gospel there are no divisions on this ground. All are in fact equal.
- Racially (Romans 10:11-12; cf. Romans 10:29): Once again the gospel has an answer for societal divisions, this time in terms of the racial divisions. Not only can all generations trace lineage through the same man and woman from the beginning of creation, but several times in the New Testament Paul reiterates the point that there are no distinctions and that the gospel is available to all.
- Sinfully (Romans 3:23): Finally, all of us start at the same level. We have a sinful nature. Not one of us is immune from this deadly disease. The very fact that each of us is infected with it indicates that we are all corrupted by the same thing. Thus, we are all equal in terms of sin and in terms of the grace we need.
In reality, when we look at ourselves and others in light of the gospel, we can only recognize even more how equal we really are.
With such a revelation there comes one response that we can have. We must love others (John 15:12) and we do so by bringing them the gospel that imparts an eternal life (Mark 16:15).
Once again we have a worldly problem in which society seeks answers. Such a problem was addressed by the sufficiency of Scripture and the completeness of the Gospel. We should not be surprised that the Bible is able to address our deepest needs, however it is shameful that we don’t rely upon its sufficiency more completely.
Photo “Summer Holiday 2014” courtesy of user Frans de Wit and Flickr.