July 06, 2022 John A. Murphy, Jr.

Divided We Stand...Together

Divided We Stand...Together

Recently, our country "celebrated" its 246th birthday. I put the word "celebrated" in quotation marks for several reasons as it seems that we live in a time where our nation is deeply reflective on the many sins of our collective past. Among those sins is the most obvious slavery, a topic that has divided our nation since its founding. Yet there is more: racism continues to challenge us as a country; as do issues of equality; women's rights; ongoing debates over first, second, fourth, and sixth amendment rights and the application of these rights for all; and not least of all debate over recent decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.On July 4th amid the parades, firework displays, picnics, and festivities, there were certain celebrities who took the opportunity on this day to denounce their citizenship, or proclaim how horrible our country is. Then, there was the tragedy of the mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois that left at least 7 dead (at latest count) and dozens more injured.Since this weekend so much has been said about people dividing our country. They forget that we are and have always been a divided country. Our Presidents through the centuries have been elected by the slim average percentage of 9% or less of the popular vote, and since 2000 by an average of 2.5%. No President in our lifetime (or perhaps ever) has been unanimously elected. So anytime any person disparages one party's voters over the other they are in essence insulting at least 40% of the country. That divides us. The vitriol of politicians doesn't help matters; neither does the encouragement of absolutism and defiant resistance to any compromise.There was a time when government leaders were praised for their ability to get things done by working for solutions with members of the opposition, to persuade others, and hopefully improve life for all concerned. Compromise was not a bad thing, it was part of the process in trying to get things done. Now, it seems elected leaders of all stripes are praised for taking a stand, for digging in their heels, and for outright defiance of the opposition. So the wheels of republican democracy grind to a halt; nothing gets done and presidents resort to "executive orders", which only further divide us.The preamble of the U.S. Constitution begins with the solemn words: "We the people of the United States of America, in order to form a more perfect union..." Clearly our founders understood we weren't there yet, and perhaps never would be. As a mentor/pastor of mine once described the Christian faith, "It's a process and a progress."There is in this country of ours so much to be praised. We live in a country where we have the liberty to speak our mind and disagree; to raise our flag and to burn it; to peacefully gather in support or protest; and to vote. The very reason that our country is great is because we can reflect on both its greatness and its flaws. We can raise our flag and cheer; and we can raise our fist skyward or kneel in protest. It is because our country is great we have the freedom to do these things.And what about our faith. How do we as Christians respond when we believe we align better with one side or the other. First, we must remember that no political party has the high ground as the more "Christian" party. There are good, faithful, believers and followers of Christ all along the political spectrum. I have often discovered in conversation with people I disagreed with that we came to similar conclusions from very different starting points.If there was ever a separation it would be between sinners and the most Holy High God. Yet, God said, "Come, let us reason together..." (Isaiah 1:18). It was God who sent his only son to walk among us. Even Paul in his second letter to the Corinthian church says, "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation," (2 Cor 5:18).If the message we've been entrusted with is ministry and message of reconciliation, who are we to continue to beat the drums of separation? Jesus said, "They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another," (John 13:35).We live in a country of deep divisions, radically different opinions, and the freedom to express all of it. One of the things that impresses me most about Mission Woods Church is that we have all stripes represented. We have those that would call themself liberal, and others staunch conservatives, and still others who put themselves somewhere in the middle. This is not only true politically, it is true theologically as well. Yet, together we strive to seek Christ first in all things and to bring glory to the One true God who is worthy of our praise.May we, together, let our light shine before others that they may see our good works and give praise to our Father in heaven, (Matthew 5:16). God bless you all.In His Grip,Pastor John