Ever seen the bumper sticker or t-shirt that has the religious symbols that form the word "coexist"? Something about that stirs something in me. I hate that logo passionately. I hate what it represents; the notion that it doesn't matter what you believe, as long as we all get along, everything will be ok in the end. I hate the lie that has been sold to countless souls, sending them to an eternal torment and inconceivably and aweful damnation. Most of the faiths in this logo don't even proclaim the existence of a hell or have any notion of the demonic forces they toy with. Worse, the whole thing smacks of religion which is not what faith is about at all. My salvation is not a work of religion but an overwhelming act of a loving Savior and my resultant relationship with him and the Father.
Further, the cross on this logo is reduced to one of several religions. I am NOT a religious person. At times I almost hesitate to say I am a christian as this term in modern vernacular has become so diluted and polluted. When the term was originally issued to early church believers, they didn't come up with it for themselves. Rather it was their persecutors and the world around them that called them "little Christs". Today we've turned it into a label, a brand that somehow includes roughly 1.6 billion souls walking this planet. That's 1.6 billion IF you include those who claim to be "christian" by political, social, or cultural mapping standards such as the United States which claims to be a christian nation and very many of the western European and Latin nations. Sadly the vast majority of these will stand before our Savior and hear the words "depart...I never knew you."
Back to my bumper sticker. Why do we think that we can bring so many divergent philosophies together and "get along"? Why do we think we can continue to each go our seperate way, doing as we please without rules or consequence and not injure someone in the process, not cross someone else's truth? The whole falicy of "coexist" is that this works fine...unless someone introduces absolute truth with absolute standards for right and wrong. Then we've encroached on other's freedom of thought and right of expression. Then we've imposed our beliefs on others. I wonder how that argument would work in court. "The officer then imposed his desire for traffic flow at 55 mph on me, while I was innocently enjoying the right to freely travel 80 mph. I then accelerated to 100 mph just before the crash which involved the other vehicles, at which time I was wrongly mistreated by being arrested for killing the family of five in the minivan". The world of "coexist" doesn't bring peace or unity or harmony. It admonishes negligence and blindness, because that's what it truly seeks. You turn a blind eye towards what I'm doing and leave me alone and I won't critique what you are doing and everyone gets along, even when what I'm doing hurts you or myself.
On most of the stickers I've seen, three of the seven letters are formed by the symbols of Islam, Judiaism, and Christianity. Christianity does have its tarnishes thanks to the crusades, the Inquisition, and even more recently scandals of faith of the past few decades.etc. Looking back we see these things were done outside of the will of God and apart from his Word, we see the absolute falicy of men and their imperfect and very often self centered natures. True Christianity still boils down to the two most important commandments as Jesus stated "love your God with everything in you, love your neighbor as yourself". Reckless LOVE. Our Jewish brothers have been the punching bag of almost every culture and God's blessing still resides upon them. Many follow the Torah and still need to come to know Jesus, but God's covenants still hold true. Islam is as bloody as Christianity has been and is on the rise in violence and persecution against both the Jew and the Christian with no sign of letting up. There is an obvious absence of unity here among these even these, the most established of faiths.
In Ephesians 4:1-6 Paul writes
"1 Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all."
In speaking to the believers, we see here that the Lord desires that we work at cultivating unity among ourselves, making allowance for each other's imperfections and character flaws. But this is unity among believers, among those who call Him lord. Can there be unity among believers and non-believers, among Christians and those who refuse Christ? 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 puts it pretty plainly.
"14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? 16 And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: "I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 17 Therefore come out from among unbelievers, and seperate yourselves from them and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. 18 And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (New Living Translation)
Here we are not called to isolate ourselves from the world around us, but to stand up and stand out and stop pretending to be part of a fallen race. This isn't a call to turn our back and "shun" the world but to stop immitating it and be who God called us to be - his holy, set-apart, children who will proclaim and walk out His love and grace and set the nations free through the testamony of their lives and word of their mouths. Boldy and, when necessary, fiercely taking back from the enemy what he has stolen from all of humanity through abuses and deceptions and drugs and famine and disease.
Jesus never promised to bring peace to the earth. As a matter of fact, he promised to bring division and strife. In Matthew 10 where he sends out the 12 for the first time to evangelize and do real work in his name, he warns them the work he is sending them to do is divisive. People will hate them for it. In verse 34 he very bluntly says "I didn't come to bring peace. I came to bring a sword." That sword is the sword of the Spirit as described in Ephesians 6:17, his Word, his gospel, and it is alive and powerful and divisive as described in Hebrews 4:12. It seperates and cuts away sin just as our witness and the Word we proclaim will seperate us from the culture around us that is so rapidly deteriorating. Men will despise us for it, darkness cannot abide the light and there is light within the believer who is passionately pursuing Christ and his directive to "go into all the world". That world starts at your door step and circles 360 around this globe. So from this world, we can expect the opposite of unity to the message of Salvation and the total grace of God's love, but it is only under the operation of God's love can total unit be achieved. Because of this, men strive in vain to "coexist".
Thankfully those in Christ do not. Thankfully those in Christ are new creations - transformed - capable of love and unity beyond the scope of our natural born tendencies by the indwelling of his Spirit. Humility and gentleness follow after those who are bearing the fruit of the Spirit and in that fruit we are able to preserve peace and remain united. The world will never know this unity. They want to, so very badly they want to. They try to manufacture it, particularly with every calamity and disaster that strikes at the heart of men they band together to generate it. But they cannot sustain it because it is of men and not of God. We have this unity forever because we are all of the same body, Christ's body and we are One.