Thursday, July 23, 2020

House Divided

It was during the Senate campaign of 1858 that Abraham Lincoln made his famous "House Divided" speech. His words are now well-known. "A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free." Of course these words did not originate with Lincoln. It was Jesus who first coined the phrase, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand" (Matthew 12:25). It is a truism that can be applied in many ways. Of course, human beings have been divided since the fall. There is a constant enmity with God and with our fellow man. It is the ultimate cause of wars between nations, conflict in the home, and sadly, even division in the church. Too often today it takes little provocation for an individual or family to depart from their church.

We are witnessing a period where division is rising to new heights. They have coined a new phrase to describe just how fragmented we have become, "Cancel Culture." If you believe something or say something that isn't precisely in agreement with my beliefs you are to be deleted, removed, excluded, and rendered unworthy of any further consideration. Apologies are futile; forgiveness is out of the question. You have been cancelled. Many pastors live in fear of being cancelled. It doesn't matter that they have served tirelessly and taught faithfully. One wrong action will result in being cancelled. Employees of corporations fear losing their jobs for saying something that doesn't pass the social policies established by the company. Professors in universities have the same fears. If you don't tow the line you risk being cancelled.

We look across our nation and wonder how long our house can continue to stand. The political arena has become vicious. The words that spew from the lips of adult politicians are often appalling. There no filters. Civil discourse seems to have evaporated. The racial divide is worse than ever. Instead of seeking respect and equality among all, it has degenerated into bullet points of which if you don't tow the line you are to be cancelled. Rather than doing the hard work of seeking reconciliation, many have used this season to create havoc across the land--rioters destroying property and anarchists seizing control over the streets. If you disagree with their actions you are labeled a racist.

What is the solution to such division? On one hand we need to plead for God's mercies. Division is in the heart of man. The human heart is wicked and capable of every form of evil. Jeremiah wrote over twenty-six hundred years ago, "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it" (Jeremiah 17:9)? God is merciful to restrain the evil intentions of the human heart. He does this through outward restraints such as family and civil authorities as well as the inward restraint of the conscience. Sadly, the consciences of many today are hardened and seared. This is why there is so little civil discourse and why lawlessness has become rampant. We need to pray that God would be merciful to restrain the sin in our nation. The ultimate solution is the transforming grace of the Gospel. In Christ, God unites us together as one body and enables us to be forgiving and forbearing towards one another. Even here, however, we need much grace. This is why the New Testament constantly admonishes us towards love and unity. May God grant us much grace.