- From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove
What Does God say about the divisions in our society?
We have divided ourselves into many different groups. Why? What do we gain by doing this? What does God have to say about divisions?
Jesus prayed for all of us to be one in Him, as He is one in the Father, Jn 17:20-22, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:” Is God not saying there is only one eternal family and His word is being preached so all may have the opportunity to find their way to Him? His offer to be part of His eternal family goes out to all of us, no matter what immaterial differences we may perceive. The key is not that we are all different in some ways; the key is that we are all the same in many more ways, as we are all made in His image, Gen 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” When we allow artificial divisions to separate us, we are all weakened. The devil uses these divisions to keep us from coming together to reason on the important issues, which would lead us to love one another and to care for one another, Eccl 4:12, “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Can we imagine what it would be like for all of us to peacefully come together to reason, bringing not only our opinions but also a willingness to consider the opinions of others? God is not creating all the artificial divisions that exist in our lives. He is asking us to lay them down at the foot of the cross. He wants us to learn that He is love, 1 Jn 4:8, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” and that we shouldlove the way He loves, unconditionally, Jn 15:12, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” His unconditional love for us is the reason He can give us free will; He is asking each of us to choose to be part of His family. Separating ourselves means we want to live our own way, or one of the many other ways the devil has established to lead us away from God, instead of His way; and the peace and joy that follows. He has warned us against going our own way, Prov 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” In the story of the prodigal son, the father did not stop the prodigal son from leaving. The father waited patiently for his son to return and welcomed him with open arms and a kiss when he did, Lk 15:22-24, “But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.” This is how our Father in heaven waits for us; however, He will respect our decision to remain separated. This is the only division that matters, and we are the ones creating it.
God does not want us preaching another gospel, only the one Jesus brought us, for anything else leads to divisions, 1 Cor 1:10-13, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” Is Jesus divided? Where do we find Jesus telling us His church should be divided? Why would we follow any other voice? Acts 4:19, “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.” Who is kinder, who is more forgiving? Who loves us more? Wouldn’t it be better to look for the things that unite us, and fellowship over these things? We can come together to reason on issues we do not yet agree. God is telling us we need to learn His ways, which lead toHis peace and joy, Heb 3:8-10, “Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.” The proof that demonstrates we are living His way can be found in the peace and joy that follows, Rom 14:16-17, “Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Without His peace and joy, we are not following God’s way.
God does not call us to contention, Tit 3:9-11, “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” Why would we choose to argue about the things we do not fully understand? Is He not telling us these kinds of arguments lead us to divisions and that we only condemn ourselves when we use His Words to create stumbling blocks for our brethren? Instead, He asks us to reason with Him and discuss our differences by listening first and speaking only after we understand the other person’s opinion, Jam 1:19, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:” Then, each of us can depart and think about those differing opinions, to see if we have softened our view on the subject, or even changed it. This is the reasoning He calls us to, Is 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” But, to reason this way, we must be humble, not vain, for our humility allows us to change our opinions. God’s Word never changes, only our opinions of it can change, Matt 24:35, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”
Does God not call us to care for those we feel are unworthy? 1 Cor 12:23-26, “And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” Is God not asking us to avoid judging whether others are honorable enough? Can we stand by and watch any person suffer and do nothing? Would there be a need for divisions if we all followed God’s calling? Is God not asking us to consider our judging of others to be less honorable, and that it is no more than our arrogant behavior attempting to elevate ourselves at the expense of others? Where does God ask us to judge others? Matt 7:1-2, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Can we not see how our judgments lead us to divisions and ultimately to being judged? We should love and respect others, no matter the differences our partially closed eyes see. There will be plenty of time in eternity to ponder what we do not understand if we would only accept His offer and become part of His family.
Col 3:12-15, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Is God not telling us we are one body united by one Spirit and that when we accept this truth, we will live in peace, we will be humble, meek, longsuffering, and always ready to forgive? Does forgiveness destroy the walls we create to divide ourselves? Will we see that those differences/divisions we imagine are nothing more than illusions, brought to us by the father of all lies, Jn 8:44, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” God only speaks the truth, and it never changes, Numb 23:19, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” and Is 40:8, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” When we reflect His love, all of our perceived divisions will dissolve away.
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