Finding Common Ground
How does the Gospel bring together what was once divided?
Common ground does not exist when it consists solely of one person’s beliefs. By definition, common ground exists only within a community.
During the Trump presidency, Republicans looked for bipartisan support on issues like immigration and infrastructure. Both bills failed to find common ground. As the Biden administration looks for bipartisan support on immigration and infrastructure, little seems forthcoming. Even within the parties themselves there are daily public spats over other members’ true fidelity to core principles.
These divisions, often infused with ideological purity campaigns, are not unique to the political world. For centuries, the Church has divided itself over a variety of consequential and inconsequential issues (see 1 Corinthians 1).
There are numerous Baptist, Presbyterian, charismatic, and reformed denominations. New ones are only a disagreement away. When will Christ return? How many times? Is speaking in tongues for today? Should the Church pursue social justice? Can women preach? Should we baptize children? Should we kiss dating goodbye? Why was VeggieTales ever popular?
Before we Christians criticize those serving in Washington for their inability to find common ground, perhaps we should first remove the log from our own eyes and focus on the vast common ground we departed from in search of factions and tribalism.
As Christians, we find our identity and understanding of our beliefs in the Bible. We believe that the Scriptures are our loving Father’s means of communicating His will for a full and abundant life to the people that He created, and also His way of expressing His desire to have a relationship with us through His Son Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 3).
We believe there is only One God who has always existed as three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – the Trinity, and that He really did create the world and everything in it (Genesis 1-2).
We believe that His only Son, Jesus, was fully God and fully man, and that he came and lived, and suffered, and died just as the Old Testament had predicted. That He did it all on our behalf, in order to restore our relationship to God that was broken by our own sinful selfishness and pride. That His victory over death was declared when he was raised from the dead on the third day. And that Jesus is the promised Redeemer (1 Corinthians 15:1-3).
We believe that the Holy Spirit is God’s gift to everyone who calls upon the name of Jesus, and He works in us to conform and transform us towards a more Christ-like character, and to provide assurance of the hope that is waiting for us, even when things seem hopeless (John 14).
We believe that Jesus Christ sits as the head of the Church, and that the Church is made up of all those people from every tongue and tribe and nation (and political party) around the world who trust in Jesus, and that the Church is a family that God created to weep with those who weep, and laugh with those who laugh, for our mutual encouragement and for our accountability (Colossians 1).
We believe that the world, our culture, and our lives present complex problems and yet, far too often, the truths of the Bible have been misused, misunderstood, and misapplied to those complex issues. Still, the gospel has the answers we seek. As Christians, we hope to bring the peace and hope of the true gospel to all of life, and especially in our home ofWashington, DC (1 Peter 2:9-12).
We believe that the way we live in this world is crucial to the advancement of the gospel of Jesus. As Jesus prayed in the garden before his capture and crucifixion, we ask that God would make us one, even as He and the Son are One, so that the world may know that God loves them, and sent His Son Jesus for them (John 17:21).
Working from this common ground, much is possible!
Rev. Michael Langer is the Associate Director for the D.C. ministry.