A HOUSE DIVIDED
On June 16th, 1858, as he accepted his party’s nomination to be the senator from the state of Illinois, Abraham Lincoln spoke these words:
“A house divided against itself, cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided.”
These are strong words that are particularly applicable today as we, the children of God, have become divided by the ideologies of race, gender, economics, and politics!
In Mark, chapter 3, verse 25, Jesus responds to the scribes’ claim that He is Beelzebub and is casting out demons. He responds to their claim with the rhetorical question: How can Satan cast out Satan? His point is that a house divided against itself cannot stand, it cannot survive. He repeats this when He states “every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:” (Matthew 12:25)
Can we justifiably claim to be the children of God and at the same time perpetuate the divisions within the Church that keep us apart and in conflict?
Scripture: Luke 11:14-23
WHO IS YOUR NEIGHBOR?
When we are reminded that we should bear the burden of a neighbor, its difficult not to ask the question of who or what is our neighbor that we should bear his, or her burden? This is especially difficult to answer when the one needing our help is someone with whom we would rather not associate.
The Greek of the original language, the language in which the New Testament is written, indicates that a “neighbor” can be anyone, from the person next door to the person across town or further. In essence, our neighbor is all men.
The real issue here is not the definition of “neighbor” although that is important. Rather, the issue is the application of what it means to bear another’s burden. Scripture tells us that each man must carry his own load. However, there are those times when the load becomes too heavy to carry alone and help is needed. When that happens, no matter who that neighbor is, as Christians we must step in and help carry the burden.
So, the question for each one of us is this – how have I treated my neighbor when I’ve seen him in need? Have I helped him carry his load, or have I allowed him to struggle on by himself?
Scripture: Luke 10:25-37
In Luke 22, we read of how Jesus responded to the question of who is the greater – the servant or the one being served. His response? It is the one who serves another. It is nice to be waited upon but, we are called to be servants just as Jesus was.
Jesus illustrates this point when He washes the feet of His disciples; a task left to a household servant. His point? There is no more humble a task than to serve a brother or sister in even the most mundane of needs.
Occasionally, God reminds of this fact of service through the actions of another. On a warm Saturday morning on a dusty baseball field, in the middle of a game between two teams of second graders, one man stopped play in order to tie the shoe laces of the batter so that when she eventually did hit the ball, she would not be tripped on her way to first base.
His was a humble act of servanthood. There was no glory to be found in it, nor recognition by his peers, nor reward of any kind other than that of living out what it means to be a humble servant.
Scripture: Luke 13:1-17
Two thousand years ago, God fulfilled a promise to His children that He made at the time of their fall from the Garden. Their first parents disobeyed His one command that they not eat from the tree at the center of the Garden – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Well, you know the story. They disobeyed, they sinned, and as a consequence they were ejected from the Garden and the entrance was blocked by an armed guard. They brought sin into the world and man has suffered from it, never able to break free of it.
God’s love for His children was absolute and unconditional. However, He knew that even though He wanted them to be with Him for all eternity, they were incapable of cleansing themselves of their sin and thus could not be with Him.
In order for them to be with Him, He gave them the gift of salvation in the person of Mary’s child Jesus – Son of God and Son of Man. Her child was the only acceptable sacrifice that could atone for the sin of His children.
At Christmas, we give gifts to those we love; a small token of the gift that He gave to each of us. Just like the gifts that you receive at Christmas that are addressed to you, the gift of Jesus was also addressed specifically to you from the Father.
Scripture: Luke 1 & 2