We weather the political storms. We weather the divisiveness that surrounds marijuana, homosexuality, our favorite teams, our favorite music group, our state, our culture.
Our individuality makes us unique and sets us, intentionally against the rest of the world.
I like punk rock.
I am a Christian.
I like chocolate and blueberry and Mexican and Chinese and Thai and Italian.
What can unite this diversity?
The world will say that Jesus divides us. He says that he is the only way. He says that no one comes to the Father (that would be God) except through Him. He says that He is THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE.
If you don’t know Him, unity becomes difficult because we all say that we know the way. We can define truth for ourselves. We can determine our own morality, our own way of living.
But we can’t. Oh my people, my friends, we can’t.
We are too selfish.
What can unite us?
It is called the cross. He laid his life down for us, gave it up. We lay our lives down for each other. We love beyond reason, beyond self-fulfillment. We submit ourselves to something greater, to something transcendent.
When David was young, and not king yet, he surrounded himself with some people who are described in the bible as distressed, in debt or discontented. One of these was a guy by the name of Joab, the son of Zeruiah. Truly we have a case study in friendships, relationships, in this man.
Why did David let him be in charge of the army? Why did David not ever deal with this murderer until the end of his life? Why do we look over gross character flaws in others to salve the consequences of our own sin?
Let’s look at a list:
Joab murdered Abner, the commander of Israel’s army. He did it, supposedly, to avenge his brother’s death at the hands of Abner. It should be noted that Joab’s brother was trying to kill Abner and Abner was just defending himself but at least we can understand this one. Joab assisted in the murder of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba. David wanted to cover his indiscretion with this woman and Joab complies. The one person in the kingdom who could have stood up to the king and done what is right. Joab murdered David’s son, Absalom, against the express wishes of his king. David wanted to grant mercy to his rebellious son, evidence of a weak and bewildered heart. Joab wanted him dead, multiple stab wounds from the spears of many but ordered and initiated by Joab. I kind of get this one too, Absalom was bad news. And finally, Joab murders the innocent Amasa, expressing friendship through a greeting kiss and then stabbing him in the abdomen so that his intestines spill out. He further shows his cruelty by leaving Amasa to die a slow painful death, “wallowing in his blood,” the bible says. And still David did nothing.
Then on his death bed, David finally wants to deal with things. “Don’t let his gray head go down in peace.” And Joab, himself, is then murdered in the temple. Tragedy, sorrow, buried hatred.
This is not the intent of friends, partners in ministry, fellow soldiers in the Kingdom. And yet, if we look at those we work with, how many fall into this category. The ones we gossip with, the ones we share secret bitterness, hidden sin. All the while, we hate them and they hate us.
You can’t always choose who is on staff with you. We are a part of a body and the parts are chosen by the Master Designer. We get to choose how well we function, what input we will have into the body. Whether we will draw from the resources of the cells around us, or contribute our resources.
A cancerous cell needs to be removed. A heart of bitterness should be dealt with. Hatred, sin, selfishness are tools that satan would use to divide us, to thwart what God wants to do. Things that cause disunity, anything that works to tear us apart, should be eradicated.
And let love, real, honest, heartbreaking, heart-healing love lead us as we work together.