I’ve riffed on this before but thought it worthwhile to re-emphasize:)
Today as I passed through our lobby at JPUSA I saw a sweet visiting married couple- husband at one of the dining room tables, wife near the front desk both working on their mobile phones.
As I walked up to her, the husband looked up and they made eye contact and I joked “You could both talk rather than text of course!” smiling. They both laughed and she told me a story where a text exchange had happened though two people were unknowingly, seated just a few feet from one another!
How easily we mess up or miss-use or propagandize via texts, voice-mails and of course social media. How quickly WE kick-start division because (how profound! I jest…) WE DISAGREE AND WANT THE OTHER “IDIOT” TO AGREE WITH US.
I mean really, one of the obvious things in Bible study and discussion is how we flawed humans come up with absolute truths and begin to get quite nasty toward our fellow believers due to our “enlightened brilliance”.
I do not have solid data confirming this but if as one writer recently stated, there are some 40,000 different Christian denominations or church “associations” (even if there were only 400 or just 40) and they do not all agree on everything, don’t you think that’s why there are so many of ’em? If they agreed on every faith and practical issue there wouldn’t be more than one large group.
Ok, so I hear folks thinking “Hey Glenno, the Word says there IS one church, one Lord and Savior and PLENTY of verses that speak against causing division and discord!” And I fully agree with you, you’re correct! So… are there any Christ followers YOU disagree with, even to the point of not choosing to fellowship with them? Do you ever speak against their beliefs or positions on issues? If you do you have sown division in terms of simple logical reality, no?
Yes, all with saving faith in Jesus are spiritually one but do not in this world agree and in fact are in various ways, in that sense, divided.
Establishing that, I think it’s a cheap and easy shot to claim “division, discord, God HATES it” whenever another individual or group disagrees with you or me.
Do other spiritual and/or religious people ever divide over faith, practice, political policies? Only Christians?! A prime example are the number of violent attacks and even actual wars in the world of various Islamic factions, one against the other.
Have you ever known atheists or agnostics to disagree with one another or is it only people of some sort of spiritual faith that cloister into cliques, “us vs. them” and refuse to link? Ain’t no group that doesn’t face and often, produce factions.
For me, the surprise is that otherwise educated, thinking people are surprised by division.
Indeed, Paul writes the gathering of Christians in Ephesus chapter four- “1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”
In that chapter we also read “25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26 be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.”
So we each have the responsibility and RIGHT to “let ’em have it”, right?
There are of course no chapter breaks in his original letter, but how interesting that this chapter ends with:
“29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
It seems clear he is writing to Christians in relationship to other Christians. Hmmm?!
It’s the ATTITUDE and delivery that often transmit when we don’t see one another face-to-face and how often I have blown it royally -even when in direct conversation.
Truth- even if we are correct in our judgment and interpretation… takes a back seat to firepower, flame-wars. Might that add to division?
This is why words have power and why we will according to Jesus, give account for every careless word in the judgment.
But of course the only true judgment is mine… no… yours… no… there IS no judgment…
One day we shall all know as we are known. Today?
God help us learn to love and not simply smack one another by smacking keys and hitting “send”!
Perhaps this is part of how to actually HAVE and even GIVE a Happy New Year?
God help us!
As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn