Toward Mending a Divided World

Everywhere I look, I see divisions. There are lines drawn between people, pitting us against each other because of skin color, finances, gender, political party. Even in the church, we put up boundaries to keep from mixing with people who are different. I lament the way we are separated. I’m tired of it.

So, when I found Jesus Outside the Lines, I began reading it immediately, finished it in a day, and immediately wanted to hand a copy to everyone I know.

This fantastic book, written by Pastor Scott Sauls, gently leads us away from an us-against-them mindset and toward loving our neighbors despite our differences. He begins with an introduction that reminds us of Jesus’s call to love all people, even those who do not love us. He shows how kindness to people who do not agree with us flows naturally from God’s mercy and compassion to us.

Sauls addresses two different ways in which we must love across divisions, and these are the book’s two parts: within the body of Christ and outside of it. In each section are several chapters addressing particular issues that are difficult for Christians.

The first section covers loving our siblings in Christ across internal borders. It includes chapters addressing political and economic differences, among others, and how we must love people who voted for the other candidate or who earn more or less than ourselves. It is equal parts exhortation and encouragement. It is easy to say we must love our family; actually doing it can be difficult!

The path is harder still in the second section, because we are also meant to love those who do not believe as we do. This part addresses far more subjects, because there is so much to keep in mind when we talk to non-Christians. Should we affirm or critique? Should we be hopeful or realistic? What do we say when we are called hypocrites? How do we talk to those outside the faith about chastity?

Sauls doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, but rather helps the reader think through this important question: How do we love our neighbors, especially when we do not agree with them? The question is crucial since we will disagree with nearly everyone on one point or another. As people of God, we must treat each person with loving kindness, regardless of their beliefs.

The majority of people I interact with during the week are not Christians. It can be challenging to relate to classmates who center their lives around something that is not God, and sometimes this fundamental difference threatens to divide us. But I don’t want this to happen; I care about many of them, and I want to be someone people can count on to listen when they need to talk, to be kind when they are hurting. I want God’s light to reach them. This book provided guidance about the confusing mess of human relationships in light of God’s word and his love for us. It gave me permission to affirm and encourage non-Christians around me and to be friends with them. It also reminded me that critique, not criticism, is sometimes the most loving thing to do, and I ought to do so with an attitude of gentleness, not judgement. 

If you want to learn how to talk to people who aren’t (yet) believers or how to handle politics with other Christians, Jesus Outside the Lines is a great resource. It would be valuable for anyone who wants to build friendships with people who don’t agree on every issue, whether inside or outside the church.

Links for the Weekend (2022-09-02)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Sometimes I Struggle With the Bible

As Christians we know that we should read the Bible, but sometimes that feels like a tall task. Scott Sauls confesses the difficulty he has reading the Bible at times, but explains why he keeps at it.

Indeed, honest Bible readers—even skilled teachers of the Bible like C.S. Lewis—have found parts of it difficult, puzzling, mystifying, and even offensive. As much as we can rejoice in, get inspired by, and find comfort in certain parts of the Bible, other parts will disturb us—namely, the parts that contradict our feelings, instincts, hopes, dreams, traditions, and cultural values. I recently saw a quote that said, “Men do not reject the Bible because it contradicts itself. They reject it because it contradicts them.”

Why Does Justice Matter?

We may mean different things when we refer to “justice,” but that doesn’t mean we can ignore it. Jonathan Noyes tells us why justice should matter to Christians.

Justice is a universal moral principle, and it’s an objective moral good. It’s the single best word to capture God’s purpose for human conduct, individually and corporately (i.e. governments). The standard of what’s just and unjust is not a matter of personal opinion or preference. In this way, justice is a category of truth, with an important difference. Standard truth claims correspond to what is. Justice corresponds to what ought to be. Justice tells us what should be. 

The Problem with the Self-Help Movement

What’s the difference between self-help and sanctification? Jen Wilkin has a good, short video explanation.


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Links for the Weekend (6/11/2021)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Rich and Miserable — How Can It Be?

It is so, so easy to believe the lie that happiness increases proportionally with the number in our bank account. But it’s just not true! Scott Sauls describes several successful, wealthy people who were far from happy. He ends with a needed call for our imaginations to be “shaped by God’s vision for work.”

So how can we explain the apparent contradiction between the words and lifestyle of Jesus and the apostles, and the Old Testament prosperity passages? Can God’s people today lay claim to those Old Testament promises of prosperity? The answers to these questions lie in the fundamental differences between the Old and New Covenants.

Chasing Rest

Here’s a great reflection on sleep and rest by Kristin Couch. It is humbling to think that one of the ways we best acknowledge that God is God and we are not is by closing our eyes at night.

The soul of gentle waters trusts God moment-by-moment in contentment, and remains calm through absolute submission to God, who is wisdom and authority and perfect power. Nothing startles the Lord, and unflappable tranquility is the result of a heart set upon him.

God Has Not Forgotten You

Vaneetha Risner reflects on the promises of God which have sustained her in the hardest times. The promise that God will not forget us is powerful indeed.

But somehow, knowing that God had not forgotten me stirred me to press into him with renewed hope. Those simple words turned my mind and helped me focus on the truths that I needed to remember. That the Lord was with me and would sustain me through this trial. That God was using my suffering to accomplish something far greater than I could see or understand. And that my pain wouldn’t last any longer than was absolutely necessary.


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Links for the Weekend (5/15/2020)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Quarantine Exposes Our Need for Grace

Joshua Zeichik relates some of the frustrations he’s encountered when working from home during the pandemic and some of the sinful ways he has responded. He turns to James 4 to show us how to take inventory of our hearts when we get angry.

The tendency in all of us, when we feel the pressure of not getting what we want, is to get frustrated with those around us. But when we see that kind of response come out of our hearts, we should realize that God is being gracious with us to reveal an area to grow in.

A Six-Part Teaching Series on Parenting

In 2011 Jen and Jeff Wilkin taught a six-part parenting class at their home church in Texas (The Village Church). The sessions are filled with humor and biblical instruction on how to be intentional with the gospel. Parents of children of all ages will find encouragement in these lessons.

Critique Gently, Encourage Fiercely

Scott Sauls writes about loneliness and how we can find family by belonging to a local church.

How do we experience loneliness-slaying love in the midst of imperfect, messy community? It has been said, “Be kind because everyone you meet is fighting a hard, hidden battle.” As we limp toward transparency and community and friendship with our own fears and insecurities, we recognize that we aren’t alone. We are all much afraid. We all feel more insecure than confident, more weak than strong, more unlovable than lovely, more irredeemable than redeemed. When we see that we are not alone, we can reach out to one another. Don’t underestimate the power of words.  While shaming words can take courage out of a soul, encouraging and affirming words can put courage back in.

Thanks to Maggie A and Phil A for their help in rounding up links this week!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here.