“We’ve always had disagreements, but this is different. The level of suspicion of other people’s motives (and their sanity) is far higher than before, and insisting on our “rights” makes people feel completely justified in their fury. Jesus warned, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart” (Matthew 12:25). More than a century and a half ago, Abraham Lincoln echoed these words of Jesus in one of his most famous speeches. At the time, in 1858, our nation was being torn apart by the issue of slavery. Lincoln told the Republican Party delegates in Springfield, Illinois, “A house divided against itself cannot stand… . I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect that it will cease to be divided.”1 It ceased to be divided, but it took hundreds of thousands of lives to bring the country together again, and even then, bitterness lingered for generations.
A crisis doesn’t create character as much as it reveals it. We desperately need unity of heart and action to address the pandemic and the accompanying economic downturn, but everywhere we see sniping and division. In the face of the spread of the virus and the mounting death toll, we need a unified front of scientists and political leaders who will come together to chart the best course forward. Is that too much to ask?
Last year, a visitor from Africa told me, “One of the most beautiful things about America is its predictability. It allows people to plan for the future and create forward momentum. Predictability is the fertile soil where prosperity can grow.” It’s a brilliant observation, but in the past several months, American predictability has taken a big hit.
Where do we go from here? How do we find unity among the chaos? The Speed of Unity is designed for a broad audience—people in the church as well as those in business, medicine, agriculture, the arts, and every other field—but I want to put on my pastor’s hat and be unreservedly spiritual. This is what I believe: Our only hope to bridge the divisions in our country today is the love of Jesus Christ. In the apostle Paul’s sweeping letter to the Romans, he doesn’t mince words when he describes our condition apart from Christ. We had nothing to impress God, no way to twist His arm to get Him to accept us. We were “utterly helpless.” “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners… . our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies” (Romans 5:6, 8, 10). If we can’t love those who disagree with us, it shows that we haven’t yet grasped the wonder that God loved us when we didn’t just disagree with Him—we were His utterly helpless enemies!
After the all-consuming distractions of the last few months, it’s time to finish this manuscript. But I couldn’t finish it without a new beginning—of the book and of a push for unity in our culture. Love is the starting point, the power source, and the staying power of genuine unity.“Rob ketterling