From Unity to Divisiveness
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ...” Ephesians 4:13
For all the talk of unity and inclusiveness that we hear today there are among some of its chief proponents those who vigorously espouse division, separation and the suppression of any ideas opposed to their agenda of destroying individual thought, personal choice and action, and anything that does not align with their directive to remove the mass’s will to challenge those that seek to control everyone’s life.
Consider the present focus on the so-called millennial generation —people between the ages of late teens to early thirty year olds. Some define them even more narrowly as those born between 1990 and 2008. A Google search will provide you with all kinds of data defining just about every aspect of their lives. “Generation Y,” “Generation X,” “baby boomers” and the one that started the whole trend of compartmentalizing people into rigidly defined groups by their age, the “Greatest Generation” are all labels by which people can be divided and ultimately brought under submission to a few who hold all the power and the resources.
I doubt if it was Tom Brokaw’s intention, in describing those who lived during and fought in and those who died in World War II as the “Greatest Generation,” to start a social revolution of generational division that would eventually lead to what we have today—an ever widening chasm between people of different age groups, like monolithic masses controlled by a single and unique set of behaviors common to all in the group and contrasted to all the other groups.
Though widely accepted as scientific fact, the truth is, it is neither fact nor scientific. No two people are perfectly alike in everything they think or do. God created us that way. Despite the decades of effort in our public schools, colleges and universities to homogenize everyone into a single socio-political mindset, we are all still individuals capable of individual thought, hopes, dreams, desires, gifts, abilities and aspirations.
Jesus taught His disciples, not to judge lest we be judged, but never to judge anyone by outward appearance alone, or to allege that we know who someone is merely by their age, ethnicity, sex, region of upbringing or any such identifying markers that are matters of place, time and genetics over which no one has control at birth. Nor should we judge them at all by our standard of perfection. But, we should all judge ourselves according to the Word of God and the person of Jesus Christ. That is the only judgment that matters.
The more we have become a nation of hyphens the more divided we have become as Americans. Native-Americans, European/White-Americans, Black/African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Italian-Americans, Spanish-Americans, Irish-Americans, Mexican Americans, Chines- Americans, Swedish-Americans, Indian-Americans, and the list goes on…
As Christians, the more divided we have become as the Church of Jesus Christ separated by denomination, doctrines, creeds, judgments of perfection and imperfection, age and worship styles, the less impact we have had on the culture and the world.
Despite the determination of the agents of the devil to divide us we don’t have to buy into the lie. We have the ability to choose God and His Word, to live according to His commandments and to seek daily to be a force for righteousness and good in the world.
Yes, ours is a faith of uniqueness and exclusivity. But is not God Who is excluding anyone from coming to faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, the invitation is open to all who will believe. But those who choose not to believe in Jesus, the Scripture says they are condemned already by their choice.
“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:18
Ask yourself the question. How have we as a nation or as a church become stronger and more effective in our unity by being separated from one another by race, sex, age, cultural traditions or socio-economic and political strata? We have not.
But, I declare now by faith in Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in me and by the authority of the Word of God that we shall not be defeated. We shall not be overcome with evil, but we shall overcome evil with good. Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world. God is with us. God is for us. We are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ who loves us.
By the power of the Holy Spirit working in us now are we the sons of God. We have overcome, we will overcome, we are now overcoming by the blood of the lamb and the Word of our testimony.
This is our testimony. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord. [Eph. 2:8]No weapon that is formed against us shall prosper and every tongue that arises against us in judgment we will condemn. For this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and our righteousness is from Him, says the Lord.
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 54:17
We don’t hear much about it these days, but it is no less important now than it was in years past, and we need to take a fresh look at these Words from God to us for our edification and transformation.
“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." Ephesians 4:8-16
As the church across denominational constraints gives place to the gifts God has given to men for the perfecting of His church, we will see signs and wonders and miracles, indeed the fullness of the stature of Jesus Christ the Son of God, our Savior in the midst of us all.
Let us pray, therefore, for that unity — the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. Then pray for this nation —one nation under God, to be filled with the knowledge of God, the wisdom from above, the love of God that casts out all fear. Pray for the bond of peace to bind us together in the love of God.
Millennials are at their core just like all other human beings. Though they have experienced some things in their lives that previous generations never had to contend with or ever imagined would exist, they are nonetheless like every other human being on the planet, sinners in need of a Savior. God didn’t wake up on January 1 in 2011 and say, “Oh my! Oh ME! Where did these people come from? I am so surprised! What on earth will I do with them?”
The same Jesus that died for the apostles over 2000 years ago also died for Millennials, and “Y-ers” and “X-ers” and Boomers and their fathers and mothers before them and for generation “Next-ers.”
Let us, therefore, treat all generations, all mankind, male and female, all races, all children, all people, bond or free, Jew or Greek and people of all religious identities with love, compassion and grace. Daring to be gentle with all men, patiently teaching them at every opportunity with all meekness and humility, instructing them in the way of righteousness, so that they will not continue to oppose themselves, but that God will in due time give them repentance to acknowledge the truth and recover themselves from the snare of the devil who has taken them captive.
“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” 2 Timothy 2:24-26
Diversity and inclusion may be noble pursuits, and I encourage those who make the efforts to employ them for godly purposes in the way they live. But, they will never get to the heart of the matter. Behavior is born in the heart. You can work diligently to change behavior but without first changing the heart, the behavior will overtime return to conform to the heart. But, the heart that is given to Jesus is uniquely positioned to be changed and with it the behavior is changed, too. When our heart’s desires change, then our behavior will follow in lock step with our heart.