SOUL FOOD - printed in Janesville Gazette

United We Stand, Divided We Fall.

As I listen, watch or read the news, I’m amazed at the divisions in our nation. In politics, we divide into Democrats, Republicans, and those who don’t like either party or their candidates. We live in society where racial, ethnic, and religious identity divides us. Riots erupt in Milwaukee illustrate tension between peace officers and civilians. Economically, our financial status divides our ability to feed, clothe, and provide housing for our family. Other identities, ideologies, and individual characteristics can create division in our minds or in those whom we interact. 

These divisions infect our society since almost the beginning of time. The Triune God created humanity to be in community with our Lord and with one another. In Genesis, the Tower of Babel explains the result of human attempts to reach the place of God on our own accord. Our ancestors in the faith missed God’s divine plan much like many in our world today. God allowed for a division, so that we would rely on the work of the Holy Spirit to work together toward common goals.

Historically, the phrase “United we stand, divided we fall comes from Aesop fables. The ancient Greek storyteller uses the phrase in the fable: The Four Oxen and the Lion . The idea is repeated The Bundle of Sticks. The phrase became the theme of a Revolutionary song by John Dickinson published in the Boston Gazette in 1768 “The Liberty Song." Dickinson wrote "Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!" The phrase became the motto of Kentucky when it entered the union in 1792. During the senate debates of 1858 a son of the state, Abraham Lincoln used the phrase in his “House Divided” speech that propelled him two years later to the presidency. United brings us together and our divisions tear us apart.

It appears that significant issues divide us into various camps. It also seems that tensions and divisions increase each year. Even matters that once became resolved on the surface emerge from deep seated anger and frustration. Families, communities, and our nation continue to head in the wrong direction. If we do not find a correction for the course, we will see political, social, racial, and economic unrest like we’ve never seen.

As a person of faith, I see this as a result of a society falling away from Biblical principles. In the past, Christian churches built the foundation of community. Many immigrants, pioneers, and settlers built their place of worship and seat of government in the town square. They built their basic housing and then built the central focus of their community to bring them together for town meetings and worship. I won’t pretend that even the current Christian church can solve our division, as many churches reflect the separation of our society.

Jesus shared these words of wisdom in Mark 3:25 (NKJV) “And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” I call on Christians though to work together toward a more just society seeking to assist reconciliation with the Lord and one another. On September 18th, many congregations will hold a Back to Church Sunday. I hope you explore God’s call to help us build a caring community united in faith.

   December 2018   
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