Division

Faith Perspectives – June 6, 2018

By Rev. Beverly Kahle,
St. Paul UCC, Nashville

I don’t know about you, but I am very disturbed with the climate of the country today.
Not the weather, but the emotional and relational climate.
We hear everyone talking about how divided the country is – they do poll after poll to discover what anyone who listens to radio or TV or is on the internet or reads a newspaper or just has conversations with people from different places can already tell them – we are a house divided.
Our country has been a “house divided” many times in the past, but there has always been a strong moral underpinning based in our faith that has led us to overcome our divisions and heal.
The big question is, “do we have enough faith reserved to overcome again?”
God has given us the tools – the teachings in the Bible, the example and grace found in the life and death of Jesus Christ, and the power found in and through the Holy Spirit.
Now, it is up to us to use those tools to bring true change to our country and our world. I hold on to little nuggets – like Philippians 2.4 – “Look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others,” and Matthew 22.39 – “Love your neighbor as yourself,” as reminders of how we are to treat each other. But too often we let the rhetoric and the words that spew out bring hurt rather than healing.
The third chapter of the book of James warns us of the danger of the unbridled tongue.
I can’t help but remember what my grade school teachers drilled in our minds – you have two ears and one mouth, use them accordingly. Too many times in this world we spend way too much time speaking (or tweeting or posting) rather than truly listening and hearing.
I also love the adage, make your words sweet because you never know when you will have to eat them.
The problems we are facing in our country and our world are not just economic, political, racial, or social – they are fundamentally spiritual.
The way to fix our divide is to work on our spiritual relationships.
I constantly have to remind myself, I cannot change anyone but me, and then only with God’s help. But as I change my attitude and as I take seriously truly listening before speaking and trying to treat others like I would like to be treated, I find a rippling effect.
When we truly engage the other, walls fall down.
We may not agree, but at least we can talk and hear. And that is a good place to begin to narrow the divide. All change has to begin somewhere. All healing has a starting point.
My prayer is that we through the power and nudging of God, become points of healing rather than division.

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