This benighted, existential world as it currently stands is intensely scarred with divisions and there do not seem to be any hope of things improving in the future. When we are dealing with matters of little consequence or situations that are non-critical or even everyday cut-and-thrust then maybe clarity, being precise and unequivocal are not of the utmost importance. However in matters of substance and life and death it is vital to strain every sinew, amplify every resolve and go to the very limit to get it right. So what on earth is causing us such deep discord?
Just take a moment and look around you and examine the differences that we allow to divide us and sometimes push us to the point of extreme violence.
WE WILL SEE RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCES
The one thing that should bind all humanity in a fraternity of love and goodwill is turning out to be the opposite. Even as I write the news came across of a religious conflict in Northern Nigeria where one religious group (reportedly the Muslims) suicide-bombed a Christian assembly killing many innocent worshippers. In Afghanistan one group of Muslims are routinely targeting another group of Muslims with killings a frequent occurrence. In India, Pakistan, and Myanmar inter-religious conflicts are routine and deadly; in the West inter-religious conflicts have been going on for centuries and today still continue although on a lesser scale but deaths are still being reported and in some countries (like in Scotland when Rangers play football against Celtic or Northern Ireland during religious festivals and parades) violence is almost endemic.
WE WILL SEE CULTURAL DIFFERENCES
Just like religious differences the differences of culture should be something to enrich and enervate the human spirit and add to the enjoyment and richness of human experience. Instead some denigrate these differences as something undesirable and foul and sometimes victimize such persons. If you happen to wear burkas or hijab or keffiyeh or turbans then there will be some negative reactions and possible discrimination in some countries. It is one thing for such people to wear these garments in THEIR country, and sometimes we visit those countries to see and enjoy their culture, but it is quite a different matter when they wear these garments in OUR country for that is quite something else and we are not for that. Xenophobia is always distasteful and immoral and there are those who will go to great lengths to create tension and division for no reason other than that the person is a foreigner.
WE WILL SEE RACIAL DIFFERENCES
The world is full of colour and peoples of colour are in the majority yet some think people of colour do not belong and are not part of the mainstream. Discrimination on the basis of colour has been one of the evils of this world and although many countries are dealing sensibly with this aberration yet the disease is still prevalent across the world. Colour should never be a difference that have meaning in a nation just like height should not or good looks or weight or any number of things.
WE WILL SEE CLASS DIFFERENCES
The class differences in some countries are not as pronounced as in others but in all countries there is a noticeable difference. Class difference is less about breeding and more about circumstances and the old rigid lines of the lord in the manor and the surf in the field has given way to a plethora of social migration. The under-class poor today may be the upper-class rich tomorrow and some of the richest people in the world have come from an under-privileged background. And yet some people use such tenuous differences to create friction and unrest for their own selfish purposes. There are even some who have advocated the extinction of the lower/under class, and it is known that some groups have such an agenda. Police have arrested groups who have systematically slaughtered the poor and homeless in some parts of Brazil and India and even some academics have excoriated these class of people for their uselessness and drag on society.
It is clear that all around us are these differences, I just mentioned four as examples, and we seem to be hard-wired to allow them to divide us and cause us a variety of unnecessary deep-seated problems. No doubt about it society is riddled with endless problems, and none of us are exempt from their stultifying effect, but unnecessary rancour should be avoided.
But something sinister is going on here and the real problem that divides us is not being acknowledged. Satan has the capability, one that he uses extremely well, to hide in plain sight.
THE REAL PROBLEM THAT DIVIDES US is not differences to do with religion, culture, race, class, politics, ethnicity, education or any of these things. All these differences that are used to cause us problems are secondary and merely the inevitable consequences of something far more substantial; indeed these are the symptoms of the deep-seated core problem facing humanity.
The failure that afflicts the world, that is at the heart of our problems and will torment society until God comes is the FAILURE TO SEEK GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS.
No matter how we try to avoid its powerful implications, no matter how deceitful and dishonest we are it is plainly the case that evil is a toxic force in this world and tends to debilitate and destroy any society. The Bible puts it like this, "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people." (Proverbs 14:34) John Gill in his Bible Commentary put it beautifully like this:
"Administered by the government, and exercised by subjects towards one another; doing justice between man and man: this exalts a nation, as it did the people of Israel, while practised among them; this sets a people above their neighbours, and high in the esteem of God and men; and is attended with privileges and blessings, which make a nation great and honourable...where vice reigns, iniquity abounds, profaneness, impiety, and immorality of all sorts prevail, a people become mean and despicable; they fall into poverty and contempt; are neither able to defend themselves, nor help their neighbours, and so are despised by them."
THE BIGGEST DIVISION the world will ever know is between those who have accepted GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS and those who have not. This is the greatest gulf of all and it is of such primary importance that Jesus gave this advice, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33)
Those who have accepted GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS are special people who no longer live for self and cater for their carnal desires but live a spiritual life of God-centeredness.
THOSE who have not accepted GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS live a carnal life, a life of sensuous pleasures as here stated, "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:19-21) You see here the chasm that divides one side from the other.
The Bible goes on in this same scripture to tell us what are the characteristics of those who have accepted GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23)
There are many people in the world, and many of them are referred to as religious people, who have never accepted GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS. They have accepted an ideology, a philosophy, a theology but they never accepted GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS.
When you have accepted GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS there are some things you will NEVER do because God commands you not to and in any event it is not part of your godly makeup. "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? " (Luke 6:46)
YOU WILL NOT hate a brother or a sister on racial, religious, cultural, class or on any other grounds because genuine, divine love becomes part of who you are, "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" (1 John 4:20) Lookout you self-righteous haters that take refuge in church; you really need to get to know God.
YOU WILL NOT live an abominable lifestyle for that old life with all its sinful variations is a thing of the past, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things... Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:" (Leviticus 18:22-26) Evil practices have always been and will always be unacceptable to God and nothing man does or says can change that.
YOU WILL NOT be belligerent and antagonistic towards those of the household of faith for they, like you, serve the true and living God, "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." (1 John 1:6-7)
All people of faith who have accepted GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS drink from the same eternal fountain, live their lives in accordance with God's will and commands, glorify God and put him first in everything and so form ONE, INDIVISABLE, REDEEMED GROUP on one side and EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE WORLD is on the other side.
Make no mistake for it is vital for us to be crystal clear about this matter. The biggest most profound division in this world is between those on the Lord's side and those who aren't. God knows those who are his and their godly lives bare testimony to his divine grace and mercy.
Books by this author (non-fiction except indicated otherwise)
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013
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