As some of you know, I had a Facebook post go sideways. I had to step back and ask why it went that way. What was I really trying to say and did I say it in a way it could be heard? So, with a bit of reflection and prayer, this is what I was trying to say the first time, but did not say it with the clarity and with the force I was attempting to say it with.
So here you go.
A few years back I read Tribe by Sebastian Junger. Here is the unstated premise of the book: In all of human existence there has been tension. In families, churches, state and federal government. There is and always be a tension. People will disagree and see things differently. And here is the thing: That is a good thing. It makes the world work. We are better when we work together.
The book is well worth a read, but let me tell you why I am thinking about this book today. One of the stories that Junger uses to illustrate his point is about people caught in a collapse of a coal mine. During a typical collapse, something interesting happens: The one that is the largest/strongest volunteers right out of the gate to take the lead and goes out and try to make a way/find a way out. They push and will keep pushing till every bit of the brute force option is exhausted. Others in the group stay back during this phase. Yet after some time passes, and it is clear that it is a waiting game, someone else rises up, calms everyone down and helps people get through it not through sheer force, but by the power of their presence and plans.
To get out alive, both sides and ways are needed. If those trapped by the collapse were to spilt and did not stay together, that is when the danger doubles. Not only are they being pressed on from without (the collapse) but also from within (division and hatred of the other victims).
Family, friends and those leading others, this is where we find ourselves now. We have something pressing on us from without (Covid-19 and all the ripples from it) and we also have a divide attempting to break us from within (political division/party inspired hatred/you are different than me so you are an idiot type of thinking).
Right now, we would do well to learn to work together because we need each other.
In a time of crisis, things work best when the group works together to get out of situation.
I see this reality playing out at all levels of our existence right now. And if we do not get our stuff together and work together – then we will get taken out, from either without or within. It is that simple.
The current crisis is only exaggerating the danger we are in due to our unhealthy division. (Again unhealthy division is not the same a God- ordained seeing things from different angles)
So my question to us all is this:
What are you going to do today to help heal the divide that exists within your tribe?
What can you do to make right a relationship that has went wrong?
Jesus in Matthew 5 says:
23 Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift at the altar and go. First make things right with your brother or sister and then come back and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23,24, CEB)
Usually we read this, if you come to church and you remember you have done something wrong to someone else, go and make it right. Jesus takes it all one step further: If you remember that someone has something against you, then go and make it right. Then come back and do your business with God.
That is how seriously Jesus takes maintaining relationships.
As as pastor, I see our differences while in this season, seems to be heightened and little things can set us off down a path that it not good for our hearts or anyone else’s heart. I plead with those that follow Jesus, take the call in Matthew 5:23,24 seriously. Jesus knew we are better together. Jesus knew that were going to travel in this world in tribes and within those tribes are those with varying opinions. This is the way He set things up! Let us all choose Kingdom-health over anything else, no matter how tempting or alluring.
To those that have ears, let us hear.
Grace and Peace to you all.
Kevin A. Parido