This is my theory anyway, my working assumption, let's call it a place to begin. I'm open to the fact I may have read too much into that "Lord, Save Us From Your Followers" bumper sticker, but I did have this tangible reaction to that experience. The tug in my gut felt real: this isn't how it's suppose to be and you are not suppose to sit here idly waiting for things to change.
Why Is the Gospel of Love Dividing America?
If I had to boil it down to one question that would be it. This is where the contradiction lives. If I could figure out what part of the gospel (or perhaps, how we present it) is doing the dividing--if it even is--then I'd find my answer.
Dan Merchant, Love, save us from you followers, p 29
At the risk of being flippant, I wonder how much of the New Testament and the Gospels Mr. Merchant has really read.
I wonder that because, well, how could one read the accounts of Jesus' life and how the people around Him reacted to Him, and come to think that Jesus was one who was some kind of social unifier.
Jesus had people love Him, and other people hate Him. He had some people try to throw Him off a cliff, and others try to stone Him. There were people who tried to trip Him up by asking Him trick questions. He had people adore Him, have faith in Him, come to Him for help and healing. He drove off many people who seemed to want to follow Him by talking about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. And, at the end, He had such enemies as wanted Him killed in a very public and humiliating and torturous fashion.
And that didn't really improve with His followers. They quickly made enemies, and were soon subjected to persecutions. Paul gives an extensive list of the things he had suffered, and almost all of the Apostles died in martyrdom. Among the churches Jesus addresses in Revelation, some were suffering severe persecutions, and these were the ones Jesus seemed to rebuke the least.
And finally, we have Jesus' very own words, which were not happy-happy-joy-joy. He says that He did not come to bring peace, but rather a sword, which would divide mothers from daughters, and husbands from wives--pretty much, I guess, people who should be closest to each other would be divided by Jesus. He says that those who would follow Him must hate those closest to them, or they would not be His disciples. He also talks about how the world hated Him, and how it will also hate those who follow Him.
Many of His parables spoke more of division than of unity--dividing sheep from goats, wise virgins from foolish ones, faith servants from unprofitable ones.
What part of the Gospel is doing the dividing? I'm don't think I'm exaggerating if I say that the Gospel itself is doing the dividing. Just as it divided the world that Jesus lived in, and then the Apostles and early Christians, so too it is dividing us today.
Rather than adorn himself in a silly bumper-sticker-laden suit and asking the world about the division, perhaps Mr. Merchant would be wise to look to the Christ he seems to think is some kind of social unifier, to see if his views are correct or not.