Bread – Division

October 29, 2012


Readings for Monday, October 29, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: *; Rev. 11:1-14; Luke 11:14-26; Psalms 41,44,52

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Jesus says today in the Gospel of Luke: “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls…Whoever is not with Me is against Me, and whoever does not gather with Me scatters.” Lk. 11:17,23.

This can be applied to many circumstances. A household divided in philosophy, in family tradition, in religion, in fundamental worldviews ultimately divides and then falls.. The division may not be obvious because we are very good at maintaining a “straight face” over a long period of time, but the fractures are there. There are fewer get-togethers, conversations turn into yelling matches, the older or younger generation is sidelined, and at whatever get-togethers there are, some people are ignored.

Similarly, a political body divided in philosophy, in traditions, in religion, in language, in fundamental worldviews ultimately divides and then falls. Some people might (and have) observed that the emphasis on multiculturalism rather than acculturation has resulted in a certain Balkanization of America, where there are divisions in philosophy, in ethnic traditions, in religion, in language, and in fundamental worldviews among various people-groups. Within the word “diversity” is the same root word as in “division,” “di” or “apart” (in Latin). A divided household falls, and many people believe that the United States is in the middle of a great fall.

What about the church? We can see a plethora of denominations, independent churches, and cross-currents of theological movements. We are unified in some fundamentals (generally contained within the Apostle’s Creed), but divided in others (for example, the authority and inerrancy of Scripture and the degree to which we are willing to “bend” Scripture to our particular objective of the day). Is there any wonder that the Church is weak, that people see an institution hardly distinguishable from every other club to which people belong, that the attitudes and behaviors of Christians can hardly be distinguished from the attitudes and behaviors of pagans? A house divided cannot stand. A house divided will fall. If a church is not with Jesus, it is against Him.

What should we do about this sin-filled mess? Well we should definitely pray for unity for our family, for our nation, and for the body of Christ, the church. Why pray? Because the task is too big for us. At the micro level, my wants will always interfere with your wants. If I am selfish and you are selfish, then at the end of the day there is division. So we need a heavy dose of the Holy Spirit, of God’s action, to push against division and toward alignment with Jesus Christ.

But there are also other things we can do. What are these? I don’t know, because they are situational. Maybe giving up your seat on the bus to someone who needs to sit more. Maybe, in the face of criticism and unjust accusation, speaking words of kindness rather than self-protective response. Maybe always telling the truth, but doing it in ways which build up rather than tear down. Which is better? Telling someone they are sinful and need Jesus Christ, or reminding them that we all sin and fall short and I am included in the “we” and so are you – so I need Jesus as badly as you do.

So, today, I urge you to ask yourself, before speaking, acting, or writing, whether what you are about to do, say or write encourages division, and whether it promotes the truth (which we should never abandon) in love (which is really difficult to do some times), whether it promotes Jesus Christ or yourself, and, ultimately, whether it helps gather or scatter.

Lord, help us in this task.

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*Today’s readings designate Ecclesiasticus, sometimes called the Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach. This is not a book contained In the canonical Old Testament, but instead belongs to that body of work called the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical Books. These books are accepted by some Christian denominations as useful, but are rejected by other denominations. I have not included this reading today because of these controversies. However, if you want to read it, the reference for today is Ecclus. 19:4-17.

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© 2012 GBF

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