e diel, 15 prill 2007

Divided people of God! or Divisive People of God?

Picture by Marc Chagail

We hear about it all the time, churches dividing. Oops, there goes the local church.

I don’t get it – I don’t even get it when it is just little fireworks exploding here and there and maybe I saw one over there- I heard it was another one over there –hmmm... who is setting them off? To me, it is much a do about nothing. Why are people so quick to judge others and why are people who are one body often so divisive?

I believe we are called to a higher calling of reconciliation-even reconciliation amongst ourselves. If this is true –if we believe this calling- then, why is it any person in the ministry of reconciliation can be so divisive in their own congregation? Why would anyone want to divide his or her own church body? I think when some people ask you certain questions they are making an intentional effort to lead you in their direction or to find something in what you say that will help their divisive plan. Didn’t Jesus pray that we all be one? To me--to deliberately cause a schism within the body of Christ is sin.

As a people of faith, called to reconciliation of all people, and sent into the World- including into our own congregation, we can not stand for divisive measures-- but what do we do? I believe we must speak our disagreement with whatever the pronounced divisive attacks may be. But what else do we do?

I’ve been praying about why this happens in some churches- maybe in all -Tonight I thought about:

Matthew 20
20. The mother of James and John came to Jesus with her two sons. She knelt down and started begging him to do something for her. 21. Jesus asked her what she wanted, and she said, "When you come into your kingdom, please let one of my sons sit at your right side and the other at your left." 22. Jesus answered, "Not one of you knows what you are asking. Are you able to drink from the cup that I must soon drink from?" James and John said, "Yes, we are!" 23. Jesus replied, "You certainly will drink from my cup! But it isn't for me to say who will sit at my right side and at my left. That is for my Father to say." 24. When the ten other disciples heard this, they were angry with the two brothers. 25. But Jesus called the disciples together and said:

You know that foreign rulers like to order their people around. And their great leaders have full power over everyone they rule.

26. But don't act like them. If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. 27. And if you want to be first, you must be the slave of the rest. 28. The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many people.

I guess I thought about it because most often it is people seeking some sort of “power” position who are the divisive schemers. They are serving to be great instead of serving the greatness of God. I try to remind myself these people are probably plagued with insecurities and jealousy. So, what to do about this? How easily we fall prey to the human desires for worldly glory and honor.

Was it also Absalom who sought to subtly win the hearts of people away from David, the God appointed leader?

And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counselor, from his city, even from Giloh, while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom. And there came a messenger to David, saying, The hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom II Samuel 15:12-13.

Absalom was impatient to be in a position of authority. He had already had his equally evil brother Amnon murdered (II Samuel 13:28-29). Now he plotted a conspiracy to overthrow David, who God appointed as the king. Absalom wanted to capture the throne, and eliminate his family rivals. He pretended to be a friend of the people and a friend of righteous judgment (II Samuel 15:2-6). The Bible records, "so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (v. 6). The people's hearts were easily stolen. Things have not changed. Absalom's rebellion led to civil war. He came very close to achieving his goal. This action of Absalom is called a conspiracy. The Hebrew word can also be translated as "treason." The Bible teaches us that this is no new thing-it happened then- it happens today-- but I just haven’t found the way to deal with it yet.

I don’t want to just avoid the divisive people; I want to be part of the resolution. But you've got to admit it's hard when you really feel welcome at the table- then look up and suddenly- unexpectedly- you see wolves hovering around it waiting to divide and devour. Then what- Run? fight?

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