Was it just me, or did most of the people in attendance at President Obama’s speech on Tuesday night look like they’d rather have been ANYWHERE except for there? When the cameras panned the crowd, the congressional leaders looked like they were either asleep, mad, uninterested, or all of the above. And then there were the half-hearted standing ovations. Except for Speaker Pelosi who seemed to be a little too excited at times, no one really seemed too enthusiastic about those either. Every year when our president gives his annual speech before Congress, I find myself really disturbed by the behavior of our congressional leaders…maybe because it reminds me so much of the church.
I’m not so much talking about the asleep, mad, uninterested, and unenthusiastic part…although you should see the view from the front that I have on Sunday mornings! What actually bothers me about the behavior of our congressional leaders is their lack of unity at this event. Standing ovations (or any ovations at all) are totally dependent upon which party the President represents. Last night, the Democrats were up on their feet several times, and the Republicans sat there like a bunch of grumpy old men (with some grumpy old women sprinkled in). What happens in that room each year represents the political divide in our country, and it reminds me of the lack of unity present in our churches today.
From the Psalms to the Epistles, the Bible makes it clear that followers of Christ are to live in unity:
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.
Live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Could it be any clearer? Regardless of our differences, we are to live in harmony with one another. Period. That means that our personality differences, our economic differences, our racial differences, and even our doctrinal differences are to be trumped by our love for one another. There is absolutely no biblically justifiable reason why we should not love one another.
Let us heed the warning our congressional leaders inadvertently sent us on Tuesday night by their juvenile and foolish behavior. May we – the church – stop acting like them and start loving one another regardless of our differences.