"Our chief task"

What's so funny 'bout peace, love, and understanding?" sang Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello a generation ago. That ageless rhetorical question still lacks a satisfactory answer in the 21st century.

A religion scholar suggests, "The chief task of our time is to build a global society where people of all persuasions can live together in peace and harmony." She claims that since all the major religions share a belief in the Golden Rule, this provides a solid basis for unity.

Sounds great. Jesus used the Golden Rule in His Sermon on the Mount: "Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you" (Matthew 7:12).

But there is a dangerous implication inherent in any appeal for religious unity. Jesus called His followers to be unified (John 17:20-21), but in the very context of His restatement of the Golden Rule, He also warned us against false prophets and teachers (Matt. 7:15-20). He spoke of the limited number of people who would actually find the right way. "You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate," He said. "The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way" (Matt. 7:13).

Jesus never calls us to make war against other religions. Yet, neither does He promise us peace among the nations in our time. That peace will come later, when Messiah sets all things in order.

For now, Christ offers a deep, abiding, personal peace of heart and mind (John 14:27). He instructs us to forgive readily, to lovingly work through our personal injustices, and to acknowledge our own faults first. Our chief task is to take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). That's a solid basis for unity that is sure to draw the attention of a searching world. , Tim Gustafson, Our Daily Journey

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