To prepare for a Kairos prison ministry weekend, the “outside” team meets for a total of 35 hours over a two-month period. It is absolutely critical that we unite with each other before going inside the walls. In one particular formation meeting, I paired off with another volunteer for one-on-one discussion. He was of African descent; I of Scandinavian. He was from Cleveland, and I was from Columbus (by way of Cheboygan). He had served time behind bars; I had racked up a couple speeding tickets, the tough-guy equivalent of two deuces. But do you know what difference stumped us momentarily? He was a lifelong Democrat and I, a registered Republican. He looked at me—speechless for several seconds—and then sincerely inquired, “You’re a Republican and a Christian? I didn’t know that was possible!” I smiled for, years prior, I had experienced the same epiphany moment in reverse, surprised to discover a left-leaning believer. I laugh now about both moments of discovery, having since then seen the entire political spectrum among Christ’s followers.
The night before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed fervently for His disciples and all who would ultimately believe through their message. What was on His mind in these, His final hours on earth? Unity—our union with God and with each other. “That they may be one as we are one,” Jesus petitioned of His Father that evening, “I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:22, 23).
My Kairos friend? I’m glad we connected in Christ before we discovered our differences. Had our conversation begun at politics that divide, I’m not sure how easily we would have navigated to the One who unifies. As it were, we went forward and served together in commonality of heart and singularity of purpose. For both of us had experienced Christ in our lives and wanted only to share His love and grace with those wanting to know it for themselves. All else was petty by comparison.
We all have our social, economic, and military views, and many on both sides of each issue are rooted in Biblical conviction or at least our understanding of it. Yet we cannot let our honest differences at the political level weaken us and dissuade us from living and sharing the love of God. The world needs a unified us. Our unity in Christ must be upheld. And division be no more.
Father, open our eyes to look higher than the things that divide us, and focus each one of us on Christ and what He has for us to do today. May you be blessed through your work in and through each one of us who trust you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
[Read today’s Scripture in John 17:20-26.]