We tend to think that the early church was some utopian time when all the believers were happy all the time; but this is far from the truth. We see seeds of division from early on in the life of the church. In Acts we see some widows being overlooked by the leadership and a decision has to be made to make sure they are taken care of. We see arguments between leaders (like Apollos and Paul) and huge amounts of disagreement about how to handle new non-Jewish converts to the faith. To be sure, there were arguments and strong feelings about many issues during those days (dietary laws, circumcision, false teachings...and many more) and yet the church found ways to work through those issues while continuing to show love and respect to those with whom they disagree.
It seems to me that we are once again in a divisive time. Our issues of disagreement are currently about wearing masks, politics, race relations and more. I worry that we, as a church and as a society, aren't doing a good job of continuing to show love and respect to those with whom we disagree. Are we going to allow these issues to divide us? We are stronger together and yet we are allowing these things to pull us apart.
Romans 8:31 says "if God is for us, who can be against us" and I hope that we find these words to be true now as much as ever. God is on our side. God does love each of us (regardless of how we vote or if we believe in the need for masks). I hope our bond of Christian love is much stronger than any political or social divide.
I pray that we will, as modeled by the early church, learn to disagree with each other and yet love each other still.