An ailing father with eighteen sons, who bickered and fought non-stop, asked his children to gather a few basket fulls of sticks.
They argued and carried on, shoving each other along the way and competing to see who gathered the most, the largest, or the straightest stick.
When they returned to their father’s bedside, he asked them to take a stick from the basket and break it in two. Each did as asked, again arguing over who broke their stick first or which break was cleanest.
Quieting the boys, the father then asked for each of them to grab a handful of sticks and break them as a bundle. In their vanity, they boasted about the simplicity of their father’s request, but none of the eighteen could break the sticks as a bundle.
In his dying breath, the father said, “Sons, remember, separated, you are vulnerable, vain, and deceitful, but united, you are unbreakable.” – adapted from Aesop’s Fables.
Have you ever felt divided among your brothers and sisters in Christ? Perhaps over the interpretation of a verse? Probably over political issue. Definitely over sin.
The infighting is getting out of control. Just when I’ve recharged my battery enough to poke my head out into society again, I read Facebook comments where Christians are beating each other up over recipes, comedians, talk shows, and movie clips. In recent weeks, I’ve witnessed relationships suffer over differences in worship practices, the giving of money and resources, and whether grace should be offered to ‘certain’ sinners.
Perhaps they believe, with heart-felt indignation, they are admonishing one another. Maybe they were having a bad day. Either way, it makes me want to sink back to the comfort of my hole and live up to all the Introvert stereotypes.
My heart is breaking. Our western philosophical view of Christianity is rose-colored. And while we spew toxicity at each other over political, social economic, and world views, the devil is laughing at how easy his work is.
John Wesley is known for repeating this phrase: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” (Origin is credited to many, dating back to the 1600’s, if not before, however many are happy to credit John Wesley). It parallels what Jesus said in Mark 3:25: “if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
Aligning the Christian house is obviously not easy. But I do posit that we should remember the work God has set before us.
We must stand together, with the full armor of God to protect ourselves against the real enemy. When we take off our breastplate of righteousness or when our feet are no longer shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, we are left to lust after the flesh of this world. We are left to complain against one another rather than bear one another in peace.
Introverts live in a world of quiet observation, but keenly sense and observe what is going on around them. They are quick to jump to the defense of others and are loyal to the core. They understand that united, we are impenetrable.
Introverted Believers understand that we are most united when those of opposing views are both led by the Holy Spirit to offer grace and love.
I believe with my whole heart, that when two or more stand together, Jesus’ presence is among them, but when two who disagree stand together, in the name of Jesus, the enemy is crushed under His feet. When we cannot come together we are but chaff under the feet of the enemy.
By which feet will you stand when those worlds collide?
I pray that we stand firm and hold dearly to our conscience as led by the Holy Spirit. That we show grace when offended, humility when we disagree, and love always.