A Great Divide

Monday, August 7, 2017
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Listen while you read: "Twas On That Night"1 (Lyrics)

"Left" versus "right" — these two ideological sides are splitting apart our world with increasing intensity. I find this unsettling. Perhaps it's because there's no actual midpoint, no fixed place where a plumb line of truth can rest and everyone can relax.

That got me thinking about the various divides described in Scripture, particularly one kind of divide: the "us" versus "them" divide. The "us" side is the justified, righteous side; the "them" side is the guilty, wrong side. Think about that. Is that not how we instinctively categorize people in our minds? Who puts themselves on the unrighteous side?

Yet, Jesus would dispute that. He said, "For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9:13b NIV)

Jesus had a knack for using parables and other tools to dislodge His listeners from their self-righteous positions. For us, too, through His Spirit, we find ourselves on the "other" side, among those "guilty sinners". It's humbling to discover that we're no different; together, we need mercy. This is the very point where the plumb line finally comes to rest.

Romans 3:22b-24 – There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (NIV)

This text is found after Paul's summary of two irreconcilable sides: the Gentile side (Romans 1) and the Jewish side (Romans 2) — the uncircumcised and the circumcised — the culturally sensitized and the religiously sensitized. Remember, the Church was birthed in the midst of this great divide. At that time, these two sides were at odds with each other. How did Paul handle it?

Paul didn't take sides. Instead, he changed the direction of the divide from horizontal to vertical. The great divide, he claimed, was between God and sinner. The cure was the same for all: reconciliation through Christ.

Human divides will continue to trouble us, alienate us, and even threaten our lives. Yet our concern should not be primarily with these lesser horizontal divides, but with the great vertical divide — and God's solution:

2 Corinthians 5:16-19 – So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (NIV 2011)

What encouraging news! Here's our true focus, purpose, and identity. How others divide us on the horizontal plane is less important than this high calling on the vertical plane, as ministers of God's merciful grace. May we never be distracted from this God-given task.

Prayer: O Lord, unhinge us from our restless obsession over horizontal divides. May we look up with a fervent passion for spiritual reconciliation, and the fruit thereof: peace and unity. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

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About the author:

Diane Eaton <d.eaton@bmts.com>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen Diane.

    Thanks Diane for this encouraging devotional. Blessings.

    Hi Diane
    Beautiful insight.
    I have not heard this expressed before.
    Thanks for it.

    Hello Diane,
    What a beautiful and deep portrayal of the human condition and of the Gospel! Thank you for sharing with us God’s word to you!
    Blessings in Christ,

    Hi Diane
    A very wonderful focus of switching the direction, blessings,

    Thank you, Diane. What a world in which we live, and your thoughts are well taken and remind us how we should consider each and every aspect of our lives.

    Hi Diane,
    Each devotional has the same message, though worded slightly different. I know each one is speaking to me personally.
    Thank you for sharing what God has brought to your mind.

    Good morning!! Yesterday the PresbyCan Devotional was this: Today’s Prayer Partnership request: posted by The Presbyterian Church in Canada
    Pray that those who have touched our lives may be aware of the impact and imprint that their legacies of love, vision, and abundance have had on us.
    Please Diane and all the contributors and personnel know that you impact and imprint your legacies of love, vision and abundance on me each morning!
    Thank God for each of you. Thank you!

    Dear Diane,
    I thought of “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31) after reading today’s devotion.
    The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silus. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
    They (the prisoners, Paul and Silus) replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved– you and your household.” (Acts 16:27-31). for peace and unity.

    Well said!! Something we all need to remember.

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