Divided We Stand

Read Matthew 22:36-40

“Then I heard the Lord asking, ‘Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?’ I said, ‘Here I am. Send me’” (Isaiah 6:8 NLT).

New York City 2021

Tomorrow, Setpember 11, 2021, marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93. Twenty years ago tomorrow, the first attack on civilians from a foreign invader on American soil in over two centuries. What’s more, it was the day that changed the entire trajectory of a country.

From there we entered into two simultaneous wars, one in Afghanistan and the other in Iraq. The one has just come to a tumultuous end and the other ended years ago, but the effects of that war are still in play. From there we elected our first black president, and saw the rise of a new birth of racism and nationalism. We saw people vehemently oppose him and even question the president’s birth for fear he was a foreign national. Ugly stuff.

Still, that was not the end, was it? Nope. Instead, we elected another president, this time a leader who would play into our hugest fears and pit us against each other for his own gain. It worked. After twenty years, the United States of America, and dare I say the world, are in a far darker place than we were on that fatefully clear and beautiful Tuesday September morning.

Recently, I was listening to the song Undivided by Bon Jovi. The lyrics, in part, read: “One for love. One for truth. One for me, one for you. Where we once were divided now we stand united. We stand as one, undivided. Undivided. Undivided.” It’s a great song that was picking up on a sentiment that directly followed 9/11. Anyone who lived during that time knows that there was a sense of unity, a sense of being united, that was circulating in the air. In today’s terms, we were #AmericaStrong.

That is a common response to trauma, is it not? When times get tough for people across the board, people tend to come together and unite in order to survive the ordeal. That is an awesome part of humanity, that we tend to gravitate toward community in times of struggle. With that said, let’s be honest, that song has NOT aged well. It was literally a response to the moment; however, that unity didn’t even last a year.

Twenty years down the road, and what do we have to show for it? We are more divided now then we were before those attacks. Divided we stand. In fact, the truth be told, 9/11 simply exposed the underbelly of America. It caused us to look at our foreign policy over the years as a country, how that has caused issues around the world that can’t be made right by a simple apology. It has also exposed how selfish, entitled, and fearful we are as a people as well.

Sure, the attack on 9/11 itself did not do that. But the attacks did spark fear within us, and that fear has grown to epic proportions…so much so that it is now at the point where we demonize each other instead of uniting with one another. More tragically, this has seeped into our lives at all levels. It’s in our religious beliefs, our politics, our families…it runs deep! Friends, divided we stand because we have fallen so far away from the ONE who truly unites us.

I cannot speak for people of other religions, but I can speak for Christianity and it is clear to me that we have fallen away from our Lord, who calls us to be peacemakers and compassionate caretakers of others. We are literally called to love God and love neighbor as ourselves; yet, sadly, we are not doing that job very well. Truthfully, people never have. We are sinners after all, and that is WHY WE NEED A SAVIOR.

Friends, Christ is calling us away from divisiveness. If you want to honor those who died senselessly on 9/11, let us give way to our sin and allow Jesus to once again revive love, hope and light with in us. Let us move away from standing divided and let us unite under Christ to serve others the way Christ has served us. That is what we are called to, servant leadership. Let us respond to Christ in the way that Isaiah did, “Here I am Lord, send me.”

“We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

Lord, help me to be a unifier and a compassionate presence in your church and in the world. Amen.

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