In elementary school math adding and subtracting simple fractions is typically introduced in fourth grade.
By fifth grade students begin learning how to add and subtract fractions with different denominators. This is done by using equivalent fractions and by finding the lowest common denominator.
For us non-teachers that means we’re gonna use substitutes to match the bottom numbers of the fraction. Because that makes it easier to add or subtract.
For example, to add 1/2 to 2/3 we need a common bottom number, also called the denominator. We could substitute 3/6 for 1/2 because they both mean the same thing. We could also substitute 4/6 for 2/3 because they are equivalent as well.
Sure, we could also solve that equation by using 18/36 plus 24/36. But 6 is the LOWEST common denominator. Using that makes the equation simpler to solve. Adding them together gives us 7/6, or 1-1/6.
When you look at the Christian church, you quickly realize we are the most divided faith group on earth. And there isn’t a close second.
Common denominators? Not hardly.
There are more flavors of church than any one person could ever taste.
Think I’m kidding? We have thousands—yes, THOUSANDS—of denominations and ministries and para-church organizations. Each with their own theology or methodology that is right and correct.
And superior to all the others. Not that we’d actually say that out loud. But still.
Is it any wonder our lives are fractured in other areas as well?
Like our families and marriages. The organizations we work for. Our communities, states, and nation.
We are splintered across generational, racial, moral, and ethical lines. And we think nothing of it.
We need to end the belief that our primary duty towards other people is to critique them. It’s not.
Our primary duty—our One Job—towards other people is to love them.
Be under obligation to no one—the only obligation you have is to love one another.
Romans 13:8 GNT
How are we doing on that so far? How are those Facebook rants going for you today?
Love one another. That is the only responsibility, the only commitment we have to fulfill towards other people.
Commitment? Yes. This is EXACTLY what we signed up for. What we agreed to do when we became Jesus followers.
And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
John 13:34 GNT
In many ways we treat our divisions like our national debt. It worsens every minute. But it doesn’t affect our daily lives, so we don’t have any urgency to change it.
Which means we’re the root of our own problem. We simply can’t stop thinking about ourselves.
And we’ve forgotten how OUR divisions affect EVERYTHING in the world around us.
If you were on the outside looking in, what would you find attractive about a typical church or the people who attend? Much of anything?
Could it be I’m more of the problem and not the cure?
When was the last time you carefully considered yourself as being casual and dismissive?
Okay, that sounds a lot like a preacher pointing a finger. Which is the problem in the first place.
The better question for me is this: Who am I dismissive towards? Because that question will reveal my arrogance.
And once I go through that exercise, then I will better know how to pray, how to reach out, how to love.
THEN I’ll be able to comfort others in love. THEN I’ll be able to encourage others, and build spiritual relationships with them. THEN I’ll be able to concern myself with the interests of others.
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Philippians 2:1-5 GWT
Getting to the lowest common denominator with other people is what I need to be doing as an offering of worship. Not celebrating my differences. Not looking down on them.
Connecting, not dismissing.
Father God, teach me to love other people like you love me. Give me your eyes to see other people as you see them. Give me your hands to reach out to other people as you reach out to them. And give me your heart to love other people like you love me. Make my life an instrument for unity rather than division. And be glorified by my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.