Tag Archives: Divided

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.

God’s People, part 40: Divided

Read Judges 20-21

“Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, ‘Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart.’” (Matthew 12:25 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

MelGibson-BraveheartPart 40: Divided. One of my all-time favorite films was the 1995 Mel Gibson movie, “Braveheart”. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this film, if such a person exists, it is the tale of Sir William Wallace who rose from being a Scottish peasant to the noble whom Scotland hailed as the Guardian of their kingdom. While the film has many historical inaccuracies, it certainly captured heart of a people who were seeking to be unified under a single leader who would rule justly with a pure heart.

The film tells the tale of a Scottish peasant who had to marry his wife in secret so that he didn’t, by law, have to share her with the local English lord. Unfortunately, the English discovered she was married and tried to rape her; however, not before Wallace tried to free her. The attempt to liberate his love from the tyranny of the English failed, and his wife was publicly put to death in order to lure Wallace out of hiding.

It did, indeed, lure him out. It was that evil, murderous act that sparked the peasant to rise up into a brilliant noble who would lead his Scots to victory against the English at the Battle of Stirling. Again, no one knows if this truly happened this way or if this is more legend than it is history, and we do know that the battle of Stirling Bridge was missing the bridge in the film; however, the reality is that William Wallace did end up leading the Scots to a number of victories against the English.

Yet, in the end, William Wallace was betrayed, captured and ultimately killed by the English. Why? Because the leadership of Scotland were divided. Some of the nobles prized their land and money over the people they served and chose to side with the English King, while others took the side of William Wallace. A people that are divided among themselves cannot stand, but are bound to fall.

We see the same thing going on here throughout Judges, culminating in Judges 20-21. In fact, the last verse of chapter 21 is, “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” (Judges 21:25 NLT) Not only did they not have a king and not only did they do whatever they deemed to be right in their own eyes, but they also fought against their own people who were of different tribes.  There was utter chaos among God’s people.

We can learn from this. When we do not look to Christ as our King, when we do not follow and obey our sovereign God, we fall into chaos. We can look to all of the human rulers we want to save us, we will never find salvation through the world, nor through the women and men who lead it. Our salvation comes through Christ, the one and only true King, who has commanded that we be a people of love. When we choose, hatred, enmity, strife, division, and chaos over LOVE, we are choosing the world over God. Let us be a people who know AND FOLLOW our one, and true, Sovereign Ruler. Let us be a people who know AND FOLLOW LOVE.

“Out of ignorance and fear comes judgment and division.” – David Furnish

Lord, help me to choose you and not become mired in the chaotic fear and ignorance of this world, which leads to division. Use me as an agent of hope, peace, love and unity. Amen.