As I write this I’ve never seen our country more disunified than it is right now. Racial tension is at an all-time high for my lifetime (I realize others who lived through the 60’s have seen more). And let’s not even mention political tension. The proverbial lines in the sand are being drawn on both sides of most major issues. Hatred is overshadowing love. And even some of those who preach tolerance have let the pendulum swing to the other side.
Of course, any historian will tell you this is nothing new. In fact, compared to the time of conquering empires, such as Alexander the Great, it’s quite peaceful. However, at least in my lifetime, I’ve never observed such hatred from those on both sides of the issues.
WE WANT A KING!
There was a time in Israel’s history when they requested a king. It wasn’t what God wanted — He was their king — but nonetheless God gave them a king as they requested. His name was Saul. In 1 Samuel 10:23-24, the Bible describes him as someone who, “Stood head and shoulders above anyone else” and, “No one in all Israel is his equal.”
It should be pointed out that Saul did not go looking to become king. In fact, when Samuel was to appoint him in front of all the elders of Israel, Saul was found hiding among the luggage.
However, to confirm to Saul that God had chosen him, there were a number of prophecies fulfilled that day — you can read all about them in 1 Samuel 10. The most significant sign was that Saul prophesied with the prophets. This was unusual for Saul, for when his friends saw him prophesying they said (vs 11), “What? Is Saul a prophet? How did the son of Kish become a prophet?”
Even though the people had asked for a king, and God gave them someone who was clearly the biggest and strongest, there were some who complained (vs 27), “How can this man save us?” — and the Bible says they despised him and refused to bring him gifts.
A NATION DIVIDED
So Israel was divided. But what more could they want? They have their king. Someone who is tall and strong. Someone who God gave them. If that isn’t good enough what is it that would unify them?
In 1 Samuel 11 we begin to see the answer. The people of Jabesh-gilead were in a major dilemma. Long story short, they were being attacked and had tried to surrender. The term of the surrender was every man was to have his right eye gouged out.
When Saul heard this the Bible says that the Spirit of God came on Him and he became angry (vs. 6). He gathered all the men of Israel to fight and rescue their brothers. It was after this act that the people of Israel came together and made Saul their king and 1 Samuel 11:15b says, “…and Saul and all the Israelites were very happy.”
WHAT’S THE ANSWER?
So, what am I getting at here? There was great disunity in Israel. Saul was made king, but it wasn’t when Samuel anointed him king that all Israel rallied around him. It wasn’t Saul’s strength. It wasn’t his stature or his good looks. And…it wasn’t even when they saw God’s spirit come on him and witnessed him prophesying. Not even that great outward sign would unify their hearts towards their king.
It was only when he displayed such great love for the people of Jabesh-gilead that all of Israel was unified behind Saul as their king.
We will always have strife culturally, politically, and in our personal relationships. However, there is one thing that will unify two strifing parties. LOVE. Humble, self-sacrificing, genuine love for one another.
This is the ingredient that we have been missing in our lives, relationship, speech….and definitely our social media comments.
The people around us need to see us model a different way to love. They need us to show them what forgiveness looks like. Turning the other cheek. Being unoffendable. The only way to truly stop the hatred, division and disunity currently in our society is to show people a better way.
It won’t be an eloquent statement of our political view that brings people together. It won’t be our social media rants. It won’t be through debate, arguing or lecturing. It won’t be through a rally or march, as good intentioned as they may be. It won’t be through standing, kneeling or sitting for the national anthem.
Unity will only come when you and I choose to put others before us, extend God’s grace, and show God’s incredibly high, unfathomably deep, and immeasurably wide love.
Let me be clear. The Bible says in Romans 12:9 to hate what is evil. This is absolutely true. For example, currently there is a more vocal uprising of neo-nazi ideology. We are to hate this evil and fight to keep it from our society.
But, we are to love people. Listen to Jesus’ words in Luke 6:35: “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.”
You might say, “Those groups mean to do me bodily harm.” And to that I would say, we should always use wisdom and let the Holy Spirit guide our lives. In addition, consider this: Jesus was crucified by His enemies…and He let them do it. Why? Because He loved you. Me. And them.
Love is the answer. LOVE WINS!
I’ll leave you with this:
1 Corinthians 13
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
2 If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
11 When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
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