September 27, 2017

Division Doesn’t Have to be the New Normal

A family from New York moved West and bought a cattle ranch. When friends came to visit and inquired about the ranch’s name, the would-be-rancher replied, “I wanted to name it The Bar-J. My wife favored Suzy-Q. One of our sons wanted The Flying-W and the other liked The Lazy-Y. So we’re calling it the Bar-J-Suzy-Q-Flying-W-Lazy-Y.” “But where are all your cattle?” the friends asked. He replied, “None survived the branding.”

The humor of this story illustrates the sad truth that is crippling our country. The question is, “Will our communities and churches survive the branding?”

Over 40 years ago, the great preacher Vance Havner commented, “Two things we ought never get used to, one is brutality and the other is the irrational, now both are coming together and moving toward a dominant pattern.”

Our culture is currently dominated by the surface issues of pigmentation and politics. Shallow thinking ideologues use the media to manipulate storylines, setting off the emotions of the masses. We are constantly bombarded on social media by the new brands of an ever-changing culture, which demands conformity or social and political annihilation.

Unity, however, is not the work of the surface dweller or shallow thinker. Real unity, biblical unity, demands the mind and the heart. It is compassionate consideration that views life through the mind and mission of Christ. Followers of Jesus should be the most consistent, calm, compassionate, and courageous people. Instead of being divided by the winds of culture, we should be anchored by the Word of God. We should accept the charge of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians, “…be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

It was Adolf Hitler who said, “How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.” You see, shallow thinking creates deep division. It allows confusion and chaos to rule, especially in the absence thoughtful leaders. If cultural thought remains in shallow waters, then our country will continue to be manipulated by issues such as skin color and political preference. Division will be our normal and we will not survive the branding.

Those who claim the name and nature of Christ can choose to think differently – deeply. Christian unity is found in a shared Savior and a shared Spirit. Let us join the Apostle Paul in praying, “If there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (Philippians 2:1-2).

Such unity among believers will be a blessing to our churches, communities, and country. It will bring great glory to God and precious souls to the Savior.