No Division

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10)

In a culture where even our divisions have divisions, Paul’s words to the Corinthians may appear as impossible to you as it did to those who first heard him. Over the course of time, we’ve divided ourselves into neat boxes; handy categories. Either you’re a Republican or a Democrat. You’re either straight or gay. You’re pro-life or you’re pro-choice. You’re either completely for the president and his policies or you’re completely opposed to them. Nice little convenient divisions, wouldn’t you say? And that’s just our politics!

Now consider the church. The place where Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians should ring through most clearly. Yet they don’t seem to. Often it isn’t the Word of God alone that governs our lives or our theology. We frequently believe ourselves wise enough to add to or take away from His word. Or perhaps we think we can climb into the mind of the Lord and ascertain what He “really means” by what He says.

We are a divided people. And that’s no good. Jesus would have us unified. Is Christ divided? Does He say one thing and do another? Does He categorize everyone into nifty little packages and set us aside until He has use for us? No way! The only division Jesus is okay with is the division between the “sheep” and the “goats”; between the redeemed and those who have rejected Him. You are either for Jesus or you are against Him. This division cuts to the heart of the matter.

Those who are in Christ are united. Christ has banded us together from all time and all places. A rag-tag group of sinners made right by the power of His shed blood. And it’s in that very blood we are given unity. In the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, we become one. Just as Jesus is one with His Father and we are all one with Jesus, so He makes us one together in His name.

Unity is not agreeing to disagree. Unity is Christ bringing us together in His Word and His Sacraments. Unity is not coexistence. Unity is Christ alone forgiving us all our sins for the sake of His sacrifice on the cross. Unity is not quietly holding grudges. Unity is brothers and sisters in Christ shoulder to shoulder at the altar receiving the goods as only Jesus can provide.

That we would strive toward unity in the Truth revealed to us by God’s own words. That all disputes, especially those in the church, would be seen in the light of His Word. That we would submit to the authority of our Lord. That all brokenness and disunity would be healed and restored by Jesus. O, that He would bring about His perfect unity among us!

Even in the midst of a culture that has lost all desire for unity, Christ and His church shine brightly as He creates unity and keeps us unified in Him. May we be of one mind; Christ’s mind!

Lord Jesus, try as we might, we are unable to bring forth true unity. For this we rely on you. Therefore, unify us in your Word and Truth! Amen.

Be There

When Jesus came, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. (John 11:17)

The question of the day for the sisters of Lazarus: where were you Jesus? He had received word about the illness, but He waited. “If you had been here, our brother would not have died. Why weren’t you here?” Weeping along the way, Jesus was led by the sisters to the tomb of their brother. There the Resurrection and the Life spoke. He shouted. Not screams of grief like the crowd, but a blast of authority. Jesus spoke life to Lazarus and Lazarus came walking out of the tomb. The one who had been dead four days, no longer dead! The impossible unveiled before the eyes of all. Jesus didn’t heal Lazarus of his illness because He had bigger things in mind. Jesus is not only the Lord of sickness and disease, but the Lord of death and life! The Lord of all!

That’s why Jesus didn’t go; but why don’t we go? When you hear that a brother or sister in Christ is sick, why is it so rare these days for people to visit? It’s at our times of weakness – like when we’re sick or on our deathbed – that we need the strength drawn from the brethren. We need each other.

Be there. Fearlessly go where others are afraid to be. Don’t allow yourself the excuse that your afraid of your own mortality. Three responses to that. First, you’re going to die. Second, death isn’t contagious. Third, your loved one needs you.

Be there. Confidently speak a simple word of condolence. Share a Word from the Lord that points to the certain promises of eternal life. Or don’t say anything at all. Don’t allow yourself the excuse that you don’t know what to say. Three responses to that. First, you don’t have to say anything. Second, pray that the Lord will give you words (can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed that prayer!). Third, your loved one needs you.

Be there. Patiently sit with your loved one. Carve out some time. Sacrifice your time for this dear one in need. Don’t allow yourself the excuse that as much as you’d like to stop in, you just don’t have time. Three responses to that. First, you might want to consider reorganizing your schedule a bit because it’s not good for you to be that busy. Second, yes you do. Third, your loved one needs you.

Be there. Jesus went to the sick and the dying. He finds people in their weakness and grants them a dose of His own strength. We Christians are Christ’s ambassadors. We go to the sick and dying. We find people in their weakness and grant them a dose of Jesus’ strength. That’s who we are. Not to the high and mighty, but to the low and meek are we sent with a message of hope, life, and resurrection. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. He will bring life where once was death and darkness. Of this we are sure. So . . . we go!

Jesus Christ, You are the Resurrection and the Life. Send us to those who need to be strengthened by you. Hold up the sick and dying in your might. Amen.