Divided, We Fail

John 7: 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.

Growing up in Glasgow, Scotland, I experienced some of the prejudice and bitterness that existed between Presbyterian Protestants and Roman Catholics. One of the first songs that I learned in elementary school was all about ridiculing the Pope, and taunting his people as dirty Cats. Of course, there was a similar song that derided Protestants as Proddy Dogs. I was five years old at the time and didnít know any better. After all, it was just a song.

However, when I happily came home from school one day and started singing it in my motherís presence, she whacked me across the head. I, of course, was indignant. Obviously, because she was a Roman Catholic, she didnít like the song. As I nursed my red ear, I assured myself that things would be different when my Protestant Dad came home from work.

When he arrived, I quickly told him what had happened and waited for him to dispute the issue with my mom. But my Dad just whacked me across the other side of my head and fiercely said, ďWeíll have none of that bigotry in my house. Go and apologize to your mother, John!Ē It was a lesson that I never forgot. It was also a song that I never sang again.

Itís a sad fact, but religious people can be the most divisive human beings on the planet. In Christís time, the people who watched His miracles and actually heard His teaching were divided over their own ideas and conclusions about who He was. Instead of being united behind Him, they allowed their own misconceptions, prejudices, and petty jealousies to misinterpret His message and works. Instead of seeing His ministry as a means of uniting them, the people checked His challenges by remaining defiantly divided.

Perhaps, as we undergo a time of unrest and instability in our national church, we should ask ourselves this question: is this division caused by our prejudices, or has Christ come to challenge and change our ways?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, does it hurt You when we hurt one another? Does it grieve Your heart when we are disrespectful and disunited as a church? Are we so full of ourselves, our own ideas, and opinions that we have forgotten compassion, concern, and consideration? Help us, Lord, to be united in and with You. Grant us the discernment to follow Your path, instead of seeking to make everyone else follow our ways. In Your Holy Name, we pray.

John Stuart traqair@aol.com
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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