As we navigate so much division, our aim shouldn’t be to defend or argue but to practically love our communities

As we approach two years of this pandemic, differing viewpoints around masks and vaccines continue to divide our country. Online communication often amplifies these differences as many individuals and groups take dramatic stands based on their convictions. 

Covid has shown us that no matter our position, status, or opinion, our best laid plans for success aren’t a guarantee for stability. When plans A, B, and C have been thrown out like yesterday’s trash, anger and frustration set in, often tainting our conversations with others. 

What have we become as a society when the act of authentically sharing personal views is met with hatred and rejection? These views may have been formed and expressed with careful thought, yet they are seldom given the benefit of the doubt by the opposing group.

These angry responses are especially shocking when not long ago many of these same people broke bread together as kindred spirits. Ties such as sharing the same interests, faith, personality traits, and even genes aren’t strong enough to keep some of these connections alive. 

Many across the country feel defensive, lonely, and unseen which continues to add ammo to the growing emotional chaos we live in. The polarizing responses to the Freedom Convoy protests in several Canadian cities is just one example of this pain.

This default setting of anger and division isn’t something we can maintain long-term.

So, how can we re-evaluate our purpose as Christians? In Psychology Today, therapist Nancy J. Kislin states that “for many, [purpose] is about life itself: protecting it, safeguarding it, and nurturing it”. This is a far cry from the teachings of wealth and success that many of us grew up digesting. 

In Luke 14:13-14 Jesus brought up a way to nurture our communities by reaching out to those who are hurting, especially those living on the fringes of society. He states, “When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” 

Isaiah 1:17 further talks about protecting and safeguarding, where we are instructed to “learn to do good, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, [and] plead the widow’s cause.”

This could look like bringing a meal or fresh baking to a neighbour or dropping off groceries, making a phone call to someone who lives alone, mentoring a child through Zoom calls, or even sending an encouraging card in the mail.

Looking to our broader community, there are many areas where we can redirect our purpose to the good of others. Some ways to do this include finding ways to support and love our Indigenous brothers and sisters across the country who are continuing to heal from the abusive residential school system. One way to do this is through donating to support residential school survivors

We can also stand up for the dignity and equality of minority groups in our neighbourhoods; this can involve donating or advocacy work through organizations such as the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Anti-Racist Organizations, and the Canadian Council of Churches. Imagine how society would transform and heal if we all focused on and practised this form of purpose long-term.

In Romans 12:2, we are taught to “not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewal of [our] minds.” And in Matthew 5:44, Jesus teaches us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. If Jesus were to stop by and mentor each of us in our homes, what suggestions might He have for our interactions with those who don’t share our viewpoint? What you believe may not resonate with me, but your voice still matters – perhaps if we listened with loving intent we could all learn valuable lessons from each other. 

We’re all searching. And we’re all fragile. And although listening to and watching people respond to government orders in different ways can be mentally exhausting, at the heart of it, we’re all vulnerable human beings searching for hope while trying to survive and protect the ones we love. And while our opinions may differ, we have the choice to forgive and love each other—even when they, or we, are in the wrong.  If we do so, we will rise stronger together in community.

J.M. Bergman is an internationally-read author and creative content writer who has also worked in editing. She has published two novels and has written for a number of Christian magazines on topics such as trauma, grief, recovery, and wellness. Her upcoming release, a poetry collection dialoguing her journey from chronic pain to identity, will be available soon. J.M. lives in Manitoba with her husband and their exceptionally cute black lab.