Ying & Yang, not Divide & Conquer

Regardless of what we think about divide and conquer, however, it does not actually rule our lives, because it is not capable of operating in the eternal Kingdom. It is a false emperor. Though divisive stances seem to be critical parts of our daily life — fast/slow, informed/uninformed, left/right, powerful/victimized, black/brown/yellow/white, moderate/passionate, and rich/poor — we are called by God to drop division and forgo the desperate effort to conquer each other because God will eventually love us into the ultimate ying and yang of he and us. Divine and human will be one. God will not lose the portion who yearn for him.

It's Us Versus Them; Or ...

Colossians 3:1-11
Luke 6:20-26

"Our reward will be great in heaven." How, dear Lord, do I appropriate that notion into a lifestyle? I feel like a child of God tossed into a schoolyard of chaos, wild-eyed folks running in screaming circles, who fling the conquered, horrified and dismayed into the fences, while cautious ones climb into the trees for safety. In truth, we are all frightened and screaming for recess to end. Heaven has to be better than this!

Bullies can’t go much beyond one lifetime. The unending grind of beating up on people must be quite taxing. Even a life of quiet banality must get awful eventually. We’re desperate that heaven will be an upgrade. Stand up more saints for us to see, God.

If we’re honest, we cannot dismiss the gnawing truth that God knows we are separated into a constantly morphing sets of bullies, bystanders and victims. His plan, Luke 6:20-26, is that we stand up and take the punch and absorb violence into a stunned demise. We can quell the chaos roused by the furious, expire the apathy languishing in the missing, and staunch the misery endured by the innocent by standing up among them all. We are to face the fray with open arms. Saints.

Rather than divide and conquer, which is the formula for playgrounds everywhere, God wants us, who have answered his call, to reveal his presence to bullies, bystanders and victims through a willing saintly suffering. Our suffering will reveal divine mending and miraculous restorations. We must witness to a world that will eventually survive a storm of sharks engorged in feeding frenzies, dry out from the deluge of hurricanes that drown the unexpected, be rebuilt after devastations of entire civilizations. 

Mostly our real saintly witnessing involves much more tame and localized private miracles, but the process is the same.

The divide and conquer strategy, or D&C allowed to an ungodly world by God has never been so successful as now. D&C has infiltrated boardroom discussions and political processes in every corner of commerce and governing in the world. It’s part and parcel to HOA lanes, reward programs, Ebay bidding and sports affiliations. We’re picking sides all day long. There are them, and there are us. 

Even our families and friends have gotten on board. We must pick sides in squabbles, conspire to embarrass others, and applaud sabotage. As divide and conquer envelops us we come to the conclusion that we and our ilk are not the dag-nabbed idiots. It’s the other guys!

Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Sigh. We get the point of God’s love, periodically, but we fall short, unable to properly focus our hearts and attend to each other with a serial and loving pattern of grace and obedience. We are interrupted by physical, emotional, and intellectual ducks which steal our attention with their quacking and nose dives into our placid, meditative ponds.

Even when we purposely practice tolerance and ignore the identity politics, unhook from the confusing correctness language, and embrace the ever-changing definitions of oneness, the world rudely resets our chee, our urban language worldview of good. Divisive interlopers, which often includes ourselves, interrupt with scorn, furtive glances, and middle fingers. Our reactions elicit something learned in the gut at the schoolyard, rather than formed in the heart surrounded by our mother’s and father’s arms.

Stop lying to one another,
since you have taken off the old self with its practices
and have put on the new self,
which is being renewed, for knowledge,
in the image of its creator.

The world’s idea of chee looks exactly like Jesus’ litany of holiness — moral, pure, holy, and lovely — but it’s a false screen. Faked out, we seem incapable of fully excepting Jesus’ baseline of Kingdom presence and submission to the Holy Spirit, because invisibility is easily interrupted. I can’t seem to remember that the ugly interruptions cannot be avoided. I am no saint.

I am not alone. Most of us fail to adapt to our new self as an adopted son and daughter of God, all and in all with eternity absorbing us. Instead, we resort and even restore our old selves, because we are tied to our temporary, shortest part of eternity, as if a few decades of status, competition and accomplishment were the actual all and in all. Rather than race into the running horde, hide in a tree, or be tossed like rag dolls into the fences, we should stand still. Calm the storm.

Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man

Unfortunately, a large number of us cannot take the heat, withstand the ridicule of being denounced because of Jesus. If treated with disdain, we retreat. Walking the plank is counterintuitive. We concoct another path, building indistinct off-grid lives, individualistic and roaring paper lions in underwhelming empires. We plant ourselves away from the horde. We imagine that distance and separation means we cannot be harmed by anyone else. But eventually, the world has tentacles that do not allow monastic, detached existences. 

Networks link us up automatically, like wifi logins grabbing our souls and forcefully affirming us into memberships that we cannot reject. First, our skin color, then our clothing and height and deformities, our sexual orientation, wealth meters, employment titles, and asset inventories betray our camouflage. In due time, with too many more sensory recognition tools to iterate, we are categorized into scurrilous databases, and harassed into conformity. 

While these first stereotyped descriptions merely outline us, nuances then creep out of our movements and language to paint a picture of marketing bait, population expectations, and charitable donations mixed with investment strategies. In no time, an us/them orientation performs it’s affectations upon us. Others can now calculate our worth, our core values and a host of other appropriated markers, all captured amid a matrix of domains that absorb us into further, and mostly errant, groupings. 

Here there is not Greek and Jew,
circumcision and uncircumcision,
barbarian, Scythian, slave, free;
but Christ is all and in all.

Our formal submission and obedience to network links includes a constant shifting of societal relationships in such banal arenas as traffic, bureaucracy, and familial/friend gatherings. Meanwhile, and concurrently, we are subject to a vast cesspool of science branded stuff that also places us into categories; things like healthy and unhealthy foods, the right way to exercise, critical skin treatments we didn’t know about, climate interpretations, and worries over obscure and dangerous cures to every ailment in the encyclopedia regarding our ultimate death and declining age. 

Effectively, these nuances seal our fateful, worldly relationships. Far from sainthood, we stand perplexed.

The onslaught of network domain expectations, without allowing God’s presence in the world’s playground through our presence there, inevitably turns our grace-filled intentions into judgmental throes. Its like we’re being wired into increasingly more networks and faster, nigh on spastic, ADHD rat races. Peace and love don’t just get the short shrift. They get squashed and eliminated. Invariably, we will drift out of our desired elements into a parade of divide and conquer, right and wrongness, concatenated into relativistic piles of nonsense.

Christians do not escape the divisive entrails of conquering powers, pathetic peeping toms, and victimized plebeians. This truth, often denied, has a necessary, saintly purpose. We are called to witness within the entrails, not to parachute away. Creation is purposely designed with opposites in play. These are not bad designations. We are threads in God’s weaving. We fit together as these differences reveal beauty and wonder, a lovely, colorful, symphonic puzzle. We are not meant to be a poisonous den of writhing vipers.

Rather than embrace and exhibit a ying and yang of free and slave, unique nations, and faith filled religious expressions of the triune God, we are instead encouraged to reject submission as a sign of weakness, and decry the opposites to us as nefarious terrorists. We are called terrorists by one another, while the actual terrorists care nothing for the truths we argue over. The abhorrent few feast on those trapped on the fences while the rest of us shout and hide. 

Rejections of obedience and love do not light the way of faith. They simply light all of us on fire. 

Blessed are you who are poor,
for the Kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.

The caustic path of divide and conquer stems from an inability to submit to poverty, hunger, and mourning, and praising God in our wealth, feasts and joy. Rather than compliment our opposites as yangs to our ying, we view them as the aggressors. We expel steam into a profanity laced, spitting anthem of competitive and argumentative marches through the day. What blessings can this bring? We think we are being steady and sure, but the steam rocking out of our pressure cooker souls is not the witness of grace and long-suffering. It is a chugging train of vain vigor, witnessing to a false god. Hot water added to hot air.

But now you must put them all away:
anger, fury, malice, slander,
and obscene language out of your mouths. 

I yearn for acceptance and admiration, but when challenged and attacked I operate like an angry vehicle. If unabated, I will move through traffic punching my car horn, instead of telegraphing my movements with blinkers, waves and patience. 

Regardless of what we think about divide and conquer, however, it does not actually rule our lives, because it is not capable of operating in the eternal Kingdom. It is a false emperor. Though divisive stances seem to be critical parts of our daily life — fast/slow, informed/uninformed, left/right, powerful/victimized, black/brown/yellow/white, moderate/passionate, and rich/poor — we are called by God to drop division and forgo the desperate effort to conquer each other because God will eventually love us into the ultimate ying and yang of he and us. Divine and human will be one. God will not lose the portion who yearn for him.

So, dear God, though we relate more to emulating your anger in the temple, applying our varieties of idealism into stark scriptural confirmations where we destroy those who we see as more evil than ourselves, we want you to love us like you did the Samaritan woman, the Roman official, and the crucified thief. 

Your righteous anger, unfortunately, taunts us. We can’t help but view your table tossing and farm animal dispersions for our own purposes. We don’t see a prophetic display of a restorative God. We see you through political and “ism” lenses. You disrupted the opportunistic, unbridled capitalist profit merchants; or you single-handedly froze the Roman police under Pharisaic control; or you chastised meat-eating religious practices; or you wielded a mighty whip against unholy marketing; and so on. We want more to be weapon wielding warriors than kings and queens. We fail to grasp the courage and fierceness of royalty’s authoritative love that quiets the roars of the wind.

Help us to present our other cheek and submit to our crucifixions with a holy air of forgiveness. These responses change nations, but we cannot see the history that lies ahead of us, and indeed, walks in our footsteps. Show us you in us now.

Positions are necessarily competitive, and you, Jesus were a great competitor. You competed by being conquered, rising up as glorious, a reward beyond our capability. The conquered will be silenced, corralled, marginalized, and shrunk into a pittance, claimed then as a meager minority of losers. But that is not the outcome for your faithful children. 

We indeed know you will not abandon your failed children. We truly do desire the eternal reward. Keep sending us courageous saints.

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