Enmity or Reconciliation – Is There Hope?
by Bert Hartmann
Why are there political, philosophical, moral, and religious divisions? Why is there a battle between believers and unbelievers—biblically, between the wise and the foolish (see Proverbs 1:7 , Ephesians 5:17)? Is there a battle waging between fallen and faithful angels?
[IMPORTANT NOTE: Please place your cursor over the Scripture references to read them as you go along.]
Did disobedience create all this division, and does division result in the ability to choose? The obvious answer is yes! (The tendency to be disobedient is a person's natural state because every person begins this life as a fallen creature.)
Our triune God does not twist arms to make you believe in Him.
Question: Believe in what? Answer: In Jesus Christ — or NOT!
It does not take a rocket scientist, a theoretical physicist, or a computer genius to realize that you cannot see or hear the spiritual (spiritual things are by nature invisible and inaudible)—that's why, in God's wisdom and timing, He revealed who He is by becoming a man so we could know and relate to Him from eyewitness accounts of people that intimately knew Him. How well do you know Jesus? I mean—how well do you know Him, NOT know about Jesus?
As we get older and wiser in our time, it seems we are able to see the divisions around us as starker and starker, as ever-widening with no hope of reconciliation; and unity seems to be increasingly scarce. Look at today's political climate and division between liberal and conservative, or the two opposing sides on global-warming, or differences between a man and woman that cause divorce, and even now the two sides espousing heterosexual or homosexual unions, or the serious strife in churches/denominations, etc.
How do you know if you are sitting on the right or wrong side—the good or bad branch of the tree?
Well, what is happening to unity (oneness), and how did divisions arise—do we have an easy point in recent history to begin? How about the classic increasing enmity between the influential Jewish religious leaders and Jesus during His time on earth? (see Matthew 27:22) We will see that hate, enmity, and division can only be reconciled in Christ by faith—by knowing the ONE Truth. (We understand that diabolic division first arose at the fall when our ancestors exchanged truth for the lies in chapter 3 of Genesis.)
Earlier I asked if a person was sitting on the good or bad branch of the tree. For example, take any issue and take a side—anyone who disagrees with you is on the wrong branch because naturally you are on the right branch, and visa versa for the other person, who thinks they are on the right branch and that you are obviously on the wrong branch. How can we get out of this sad and seemingly irreconcilable situation?
Simple! First you have to realize it's not about two branches—right and wrong, good and evil—it's about two trees! The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (with its two implied branches) and the ONE Tree of Life representing Jesus Christ. You see, all unrighteous division, enmity, and strife is found in the tree that we were told to stay away from—The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, (see Genesis 2:9, 2:16-17, 3:22). Unity is only found in Christ Jesus—in the Tree of Life.
Less and less people know one of the most famous verses in the Bible—John 3:16. When it talks about eternal life, it's not talking about living forever (which we will anyway—either with God, in a place we call Heaven, or apart from Him in a place we call Hell), it's talking about having the eternal life of Jesus Christ in us. You see, we are created immortal beings (we have a beginning), and God is an eternal Being who had no beginning. As you ponder how God can have no beginning and be eternal, and our hope of glory (see Colossians 1:27), please remember that if we had all the answers (knowledge) there would be absolutely no need for faith (see Hebrews 11:1, Romans 1:17)!
Here's an interesting email quote opined by someone that rings true to some, and is irritating to others; and is a prime example of how to stoke division:
"The danger to America is not Barack Obama, but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America."
However, the quote hits the nail on the head when it says: "The [real] problem is much deeper and far more serious…" You see, we have a world-wide Spiritual problem that is becoming increasingly manifest in the United States. It is a lack of knowing the essence of the Gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ, which can be stated like this: "By faith, we are placed in Christ so that what is true of Him is true of us." Delving into the implications of this simple sentence will open up numerous avenues of knowing truth, peace, joy, and love in spite of our perhaps contrary circumstances.
Bottom Line: Irreconcilable divisions resulting in enmity are caused by a lack of abiding or remaining in the Tree of Life—in Christ Jesus! The vast majority of mankind is living in the wrong tree and dedicated to calling the branch they are on—the good branch. Which tree are you in? Where does your sustenance for life originate? (see John 14:6)
Apart from dying to self, we have no hope of understanding true spiritual things. We can do one of two things: lean on our own understanding OR acknowledge God—know Him (see Proverbs 3:5-6). The Spirit of Christ is the only one who can give us the faith we all desperately need to live (see Romans 8:9).
What got me started writing this paper at the urging of a friend was the disturbing article I read here: http://alturl.com/fz7nc. Make a quick perusal of this 4-page article with pictures. What I saw were depraved (reprobate) minds in action… God gave them over… (see Romans 1:28). Being depraved means that you sincerely believe in your heart what is wrong in God's eyes is right. You see, God doesn't twist arms to make you believe in Him—He will let you go to pursue your own will if you don't want to seek His will by knowing the Person (Jesus) who God revealed Himself in, and availing the power of His Holy Spirit.
So here is a quote from Bishop Gene Robinson, who before being named an Episcopalian bishop in 2003, left his wife and two daughters to take up with a homosexual lover he previously met around 1988:
"We have allowed the Bible to be taken hostage, and it is being wielded by folks who would use it to hit us over the head," he said. "The sin of Sodom had nothing to do with homosexual sex but was a failure to care for the poor, the widows, and the orphans. Scripture is not as plainspoken as some would have us believe."
I think this is the typical liberal mentality—focusing on the poor, widows, and orphans and NOT on Jesus Christ! It is being on one branch of the wrong tree—the wrong tree! We all need to be unified by being in Christ—by being in the Tree of Life. The flesh (sinful human nature) in action needs to be done away with, so that the life of Jesus (His words and deeds) may be manifest through the children of God—who are only those of God's creation who acknowledge God the Father because of receiving the Holy Spirit and having the indwelling life of the Son of God (see John 3:6, 6:63, Romans 7:5, John 1:12, 1John 3:1).
So I know I am getting into murky waters for many, but the point I want to make is that mentalities who pick issues analogous to "safety" for example—make it difficult if not impossible to make a case against "safety" which is ALWAYS a good thing, just like it is difficult to criticize one who advocates helping the poor as their main point (as Bishop Robinson's rhetoric does). And of course it's true when Bishop Robinson says: "Scripture is not as plainspoken as some would have us believe." Duh!—Truth mixed in to end the lie with...
People are deceived because they cannot dicern the lies in the sincere and truthful sounding rhetoric. Maybe this illustration will help… Rats are not stupid and as a result will not eat pure poison that will kill them—and neither would we; BUT do you know that rat poison is 99.5% good food (NOT poison—look at a label) and that it will kill even you! Real truth is always100% true, and the most deceiving lies usually contain a great deal of truth that will result in spiritual sickness and death (even if what is being said is 99.5% true)—point made?
Lastly, why is there no focus on Jesus Christ for the majority of mentalities? Why do men choose to focus on doing good deeds instead? Why is this? One reason is that it takes the eyes off their own sins to focus on things that elevate themselves because they are doing "good" in their own mind—e.g., helping the poor. You see, we never like to confront the sins that are in our lives that become apparent as we get to know the One who had no sin. Too many people think they can earn their salvation on their own terms instead of God's terms. The Truth will set you free because you will understand that there is only one Sin that results in damnation—the Sin of unbelief, and that we are forgiven for our other sins—which puts us in a permanent place of thankfulness and joy in Christ Jesus (see 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
In sum, let's not focus on our differences that result in divisions and the gamut of emotions. Let's focus on the unity we share in Christ. Jesus Christ in the only one who can reconcile us to each other by giving us His eternal life and making us one in Him. Let's explore the cure for conflict by focusing on and knowing Jesus Christ and loving Him.
"The Holy Scriptures take the radical secret of Christianity—that Jesus Christ is alive and can take up residence in a human being, and that he proposes to dress himself in the personality and individuality of that person and express his life through him—and apply it to the very struggles that we experience daily." From The Cure for Conflict by Ray C. Stedman
There is no hope in reconciling the human condition apart from the Lord (see John 15:5). God specializes in doing all that is possible and impossible; whereas, we do NOT have the power to do, but rather the power to choose. Will you choose a side or a Person? Let's let Jesus continue doing His true minstry in us as us, while we experience the essence of the Gospel and strive to rest in Him (see Hebrews 4:11, Ephesians 4:3). What He can DO through us is almost unimaginable, and in fact, the cause for people to believe in miracles and receive encouragement! Thanks for reading.
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