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Divide and Conquer

Mark 3:24-25 says “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” NKJV

We are living in probably the most turbulent of times in this country since the Civil Rights era. That era along with the Civil War are the only times I can think where this country was more divided. With the election looming next week, all the rhetoric is prevalent in all of the media outlets as we wait to see who will be the Commander-in-Chief of this country for the next four years. However, I don’t intend to write specifically about the election or about the division of this country. I intend to write about the division of the CHURCH.

Now considering politics, evangelical Christians and fellow believers have traditionally supported the Republican Party politically and this continues today. However, there are other believers, especially minorities who have supported the Democratic Party. On the surface, it might appear that one party represents Christianity more than the other. But when I look at the BIGGER picture, I just don’t see it. We also have to keep in mind that politics is just that: politics. There are so many hidden agendas behind things that seem “good” and there is so much corruption in the political world that I don’t see how any believer can devote themselves to either party. Contrary to popular belief, neither party has, or ever will uphold the standards of God. There are other issues besides gay marriage and abortion folks! Also, I believe actions and attitudes speak much louder than mere words and political talking points, even if it does involve a little Christianese. So I bring all of this up because in the past couple of elections I have heard so much rhetoric about how “true Christians” would vote for a certain candidate and/or political party. Even now when I look on social media outlets and even hear televangelists speak, people are now willing to question or even doubt another’s salvation or “level of faith” based upon whom they chose to vote for! This should not be! I understand that iron sharpens iron but this clearly is not it! It is tragic for people to actually believe that others are “tares” and not wheat solely based upon which candidate they choose to support. I believe that we all need to realize that embracing this mentality is falling right into the enemy’s plan of division amongst the body. True enough the Word specifically talks about the separation of the wheat and the tare, but basing this upon a man-made political ideology is way off base and irresponsible at best. We are fighting each over this mess forgetting that no true politician can be godly! There are always going to be gaps in ethics according the ways of God because of the inherent nature of politics… and capitalism. If there are any godly politicians, they will likely have a very short career. But of course, we have allowed political smoke and mirrors to cloud our vision of unity in the body.

The enemy also has the church engaged in cultural wars. Whether it is the style of the worship arts (mainly music) or the style of preaching that occurs in the pulpit, Christians are fighting over what style or culture they believe is more pleasing to the Lord. Instead of working together and adopting a “Kingdom mindset,” there is more interest in who is right and who is wrong. Instead of understanding that God made us all uniquely and appreciating the beauty who each person is called to be, we are willing to tear each other down and isolate from people who don’t do “church” or “ministry” the way that we might prefer. So it is not a big surprise that it seems more rare to see churches working together to help manifest the Kingdom of God in the earth. I have heard so many instances where churches have made the effort to be multi-cultural only to backfire because people only want to do “church” and ministry according to their familiar traditions. Sadly, many folks are still only comfortable worshipping with people that look like themselves. Yes, even in 2012, Sunday mornings are still the most segregated day of the week in the great old USA. Just recently, I read an article about racism in the church in an online Christian magazine. The blog comments below the article were shocking and left me a bit dismayed. They were the exact type of comments one would see on any of the major news network sites. I became angry as I read comments stating that certain races were “cursed” and others revolving around “reverse racism” and affirmative action. In other the words, the comments were WORLDLY even though we are supposed to be set apart. I believe the Heavenly Father is going to augment the issue of RACISM in the body and bring it to the forefront so that the bride can be healed from this sickness.

In these last days there is also a spirit of discord amongst the brethren. I have witnessed at least 4-5 church splits just in the last fifteen years in the city where I went to high school and college. And even some of the churches resulting from the initial splits have had their splits as well! Now there are a few small churches in the western side of this particular city that are doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! And this is all because of folks who want to be “right” and leaders who ultimately don’t follow the Holy Spirit. It seems like everyone has an agenda! What is wrong with us? I guess I would have to write a book to answer that question but ultimately it can be narrowed down to a short list:

  • Arrogant, prideful and greedy leaders who want to be worshipped and believe they can do no wrong (See II Timothy 3:2-5)
  • Competition amongst ministries, leaders and members within the church
  • Gossip and slander
  • Churches operating like businesses, corporations and places of entertainment
  • Lack of the Kingdom mindset
  • Worldliness in the church
  • Immature believers who carry a spirit of discord and who are unwilling to grow spiritually – See Proverbs 6
  • Holiness is no longer right

I have seen so much garbage play out in the church it is not even funny. Oh, and let’s not forget about scandals that end up in the mainstream media.

I believe maybe one of the core issues is that the brethren are still unsure about their value to the Kingdom and the beauty of their unique purpose. As a result, their insecurities cause so much drama within the church! There are so many individuals who are operating way out of their purpose with the church structure and body! I Corinthians 12:12-25 talks about the different parts of the body and how they must operate as intended in order for the body to function as a whole. Paul stated in Colossians 3:12-13 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

I Corinthians 1:10 “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

I hope that we modern day believers can follow this example. I hope that we can become the real church, the real bride that will rock this world to its core! But I think we have a long ways to go… Right now those outside of the faith are mocking and scoffing at the church because it hasn’t shown them anything different. The church lacks power, authority and influence due largely in part to the divide that exists within it. But right now the enemy and his minions are having a field day with the church! They are laughing and using the lack of unity to further the kingdom of darkness! Souls are hanging between heaven and hell, yet we’re fighting over who leads the praise team. A plethora of social ills exists in society, but we’re too busy fighting over theology (denominations = division) to address any of them or at least be of influence. The church should be an example of people loving one other and the cultures being reconciled, but racism and prejudice is just as real in the body of Christ as it is in the world. When does it ever end?

On a more positive note, I acknowledge that there is a remnant of churches in this nation that are spirit-filled and bearing much fruit. There are churches and leaders who are DESPERATE to see the lives of the people change and for the harvest to be brought into the Kingdom. They are willing to sacrifice for the sake of the Kingdom. There are no perfect churches or leaders; however, the focus should be on the Kingdom. The focus should be on people being saved, healed and edified. So can we stop all of the useless fighting? Can we sucker-punch the devil and his minions by operating in a spirit of unity and love? I sure hope so…

Nathan Allen Copyright© 2012

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Spirituality

 

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I DO See Color

I have a confession to make

That when I look at people, I DO see color…

I see melatonin manifesting in various shades of browns, tans and even buttermilk

Some like coffee beans or toffee, others like caramel or candied yams

Others like peaches and cream

Creating the backdrop of each individual canvas

That was imagined in the heart of the Creator before the very foundations of the earth

And then He began to put together each masterpiece

Just like a collage

A stroke of a brush here

Affixing a shape there

Forming straight, curly, wavy and different hues and textures of hair

And now we have cheek bones high and low

People of every nation uniquely created in His image to show

That we are all wonderful works of art adored by the One

Who is perfected beauty

Eye gates taking shape of almonds, or enchanted with slants

Or circles of brightness, cloaked in innocence or piercing the soul of another

Blue, brown, hazel, green, gray or even a mixture of colors

And whether we know it or not

We were all meant to be sisters and brothers

Big, little, medium, flat and pointed noses

Matters not because we can all still smell the roses

Lips whether thin or full designed to give holy kisses

Speaking in native tongues to spread the gospel around the world

But all can receive a heavenly language while the Holy Spirit intercedes

On our behalf

We all come from the Heavenly Father so we are all the same

But the way He uniquely made us in His image should not bring us shame

And it is not to blame for our human frailty

So let’s celebrate our differences and not ignore them

Appreciate the artistry of God and adore them

The shape of your ears

Does not determine whether or not you can hear

The voice of the Lord

The sound of your voice is not your choice

We are not happenstance

We are all on purpose designed with a purpose

To embrace the narrow ways of the Kingdom culture

To be reconciled back to Him

So yes even though you are my sister you are my brother

I do see your color

And it’s beautiful.

It has become very common for people to make the statement, “I don’t see color.” While I understand the sentiment and intent, I have a different take on race as you can probably see now from my poem. I don’t believe in ignoring differences, I believe in celebrating them. If God wanted us all to be the same then do you think He would have allowed the different ethnicities? Not likely. True enough, our race should NEVER determine our identity because that is found in Christ. All who accept Jesus as lord and savior become citizens of the Kingdom, as well as brothers and sisters. The essence of who each of us is individually is found in our divine purpose. But what I want to stress is that I also do not believe that race and ethnicity are insignificant. I believe wholeheartedly that there is a purpose for it and that we should not minimize a characteristic that has been God-ordained.

One of my absolute favorite places to go here in Atlanta is the Dekalb Farmer’s Market. The majority of the clientele are foreigners from all over the world. There is even a flag of every nation that hangs from the market ceiling. I LOVE seeing the different facial features and skin tones. Hearing the different accents and native tongues is like music to my ears. Maybe it is just the artist in me or the fact that I have traveled abroad that makes me feel this way. Sometimes there are people whom I can’t quite tell their nationality or ethnicity, so I play the guessing game. I’ve even been bold enough to approach such individuals and inquire of them about their nationality. A nice conversation almost always results and I learn something new.

Unfortunately, due to history and human frailty, the very concept of race in this country has become a bad thing. Identifying the race of people has now become negative. What a shame… So because pop culture desires a “post-racial” society, many folks say that they don’t see “color.” I guess people feel that this is the best means to put an end to racism and stereotypes. Personally, I think it is an easy way out of not addressing our own issues surrounding race. I have matured in my walk with the Lord where I can say that I am a man of God first and foremost, and that takes precedence over my ethnicity. However, it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t appreciate the fact that I’m a Black American man. I should be proud of the skin I’m in. I should be proud of my full lips, my brown eyes and other physical features I possess. Every person on the planet should be proud of who they are because we are all made in His image; each in our own unique way.

Revelation 7:9-10 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (NKJV)

God in His magnificent splendor is the original artist that always has been. As I said in my poem, we are all beautiful works of art. We are all original master pieces that He envisioned before time ever existed. I’m not going to ignore His works of art. I choose to see colors because they represent the diverse, endless creativity of the Heavenly Father. I choose to celebrate. I can only imagine the day when we are the great multitude in Revelations 7 worshipping like never before. Colors blended into one that is eternal and represents a beauty that we have yet to see. Amen.

Nathan Allen Copyright© 2012

 
 

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