- Jesus: The Series (Season 7)
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“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” – Mark 3:25
Division is extremely popular these days. Division makes us angry and keeps our attention. Television and social media use the tool of division to draw us in so that they might advertise to us. In August 2021, 4 separate sets of researchers summed up their review of the empirical evidence in an article in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences: “Although social media is unlikely to be the main driver of polarization, they concluded, “we posit that it is often a key facilitator.” Social media shows us what we want to see, and what we want to see is that we are the “good people” and those that are against us are the “bad people.”
In this story in Mark, Jesus had healed a blind man, and the Pharisees immediately accused him of being from Satan. They asked no questions. They sought no other solution, and they were not curious at all about who He really was. Jesus threatened their power and way of life, so He must be evil. We are prone to this kind of broad generalizations about people. Humans have an uncanny skill at making enemies.
“In the summer of 1954, an academic psychologist named Muzafer Sherif brought two groups of white, middle-class, Protestant boys to Robbers Cave, a camp in southeastern Oklahoma. His goal: observe how the children interact when separated into competitive teams. During the first week, two groups of boys were separated. One group became the Eagles and the other identified themselves as the Rattlers. During the second week of camp, the Eagles and Rattlers were introduced to each other, and demands for competition quickly began. A day later, they started name-calling. The day after that, they raided each other’s camps, threw stones, and accused the other team of cheating. The Eagles stole the Rattlers’ flag and burned it. The Rattlers retaliated by stealing the pants of the Eagles’ leader, painting them orange and using them as a new flag. Soon, they were blaming each other for imaginary grievances. The Eagles noticed their watering hole had become cooler overnight and concocted false allegations: the Rattlers had filled it with ice. When the Rattlers found trash on their campsite, they blamed the Eagles. In truth, the Rattlers had simply failed to clean up after themselves. The camp counselors ended the experiment early because they feared the boys would come to blows. Something happened during the Robbers Cave experiment that’s been repeated in labs countless times over the last fifty years: the tribal switch got flipped. Two groups of boys who could have easily become close friends instead became embittered enemies. All it took to flip the tribal switch was a little competition.” – Patrick Miller
Your family, your church, and your circle of friends are perhaps in more danger than ever of being sacrificed in the name of divisions. There are real reasons to disagree with people, but anger, vengefulness, and heated arguments have rarely convinced anyone of anything. More often than not, we get more deeply entrenched in our ideas. Listening, respecting people, and giving people the benefit of the doubt will go much farther to change the world than blowing up your relationships because of disagreements.
The challenge for you today is to mend a relationship that has been hurt by divisiveness.
Jesus takes reconciliation so seriously that He addressed it in His famous sermon on the mount. He challenges us not to come and worship Him until we fix our conflict with His other children.
“This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.” – Matthew 5:23-24
Fight division, go and mend a relationship.