We gotta talk about this . . . United We Stand, Divided We Fall


In his novel “The Shack,” William P. Young portrays Mac, the central character who represents all of us, having a serious conversation with Jesus. Mac has asked Jesus about religion, Christianity in particular, and Jesus responds, “I don’t create institutions; that’s an occupation for those who want to play God. So no, I’m not too big on religion, and not very fond of politics or economics either. And why should I be? They are the man-created trinity of terrors that ravages the earth and deceives those I care about. What mental turmoil and anxiety does any human face that is not related to one of those three?”


Religion, politics, economics . . . the man-created trinity of terrors.


On this weekend between the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, the United States is drowning in religion, politics, and economics. This “trinity of terrors” has divided us as a culture, as a nation, as Christ’s church, and as families. We are sliced and diced into Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, blacks and whites, men and women, straight and gay, rich and poor. Out of fear that someone who doesn’t look like us, act like us, or believe as we do, will take away something that we hold dear, we lash out and demonize the “other.”


Out of fear that someone who doesn’t look like us, act like us, or believe as we do, will take away something that we hold dear, we lash out and demonize the “other.”


This is not a new problem. In his introduction to “Called to Community” Charles E. Moore writes, “The world Christ was born into was also splintered and confused; it was violent, factious, morally corrupt, spiritually bankrupt, full of tensions, and teeming with competing interests.” Sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it?  As Jesus went about performing miracles of healing, he also was demonized. The “church folk” of Jesus’ day, accused him of being in league with Satan and practicing black magic to perform healings (Matthew 12:22-28, Mark 3:21-26, Luke 11:14-20). Jesus’ warning is just as relevant to 21st Century America as it was to 1st Century Palestine: “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” (Matthew 12:25 NRSV)

Benjamin Franklin said, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”  Founding fathers John Dickinson and Patrick Henry, chose the phrase, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”; so did Abraham Lincoln.

The United States is founded on the belief that individual freedom and the common good are not mutually exclusive goals. We can have both. It starts with not demonizing one another. “Love one another,” Jesus said.  Even the ones we don’t like? Especially the ones we don’t like!


United we all stand, divided we all fall . . . and all means all.


stan norman

What to do, what to do?

release what's holding you back

gerris new pic
Gerri Harvill

It’s a Spiritual Issue…

Just tell me what to do. Give me the checklist. I’ll get started on it right away. Really?

“What must I do to inherit eternal life?” a rich man asked Jesus.

Jesus’ ultimate response was, “follow me.”   

The rich man claimed to have kept all of the commandments, all of the religious rules, rituals and traditions; yet he knew deep within, that he was missing something.

Notice that he asked what he must do.  He wanted to know what action he must take, what tasks he must accomplish and what rules he must follow to obtain eternal life. He was looking for the checklist. Aren’t we all?

Our lives are full of rules and “shoulds.” 

Should worship somewhere, somehow. Should read the Bible. Should join a small group. Should pray more often.Should spend more time with family. Should work harder. Should make more money.

Should, should, should.  

In his latest publication, The Jesus-Centered Life, author and theologian Rick Lawrence says,”The good news, of course, is that Jesus is not interested in shoulding us into an obedient relationship with him.”

Jesus gave the rich man a simple answer.  Whatever you are holding on to so tightly, whatever you can’t let go of, whatever obstacle is standing between you and Jesus; give it up, give it away, and follow me.

For the rich man the obstacle was money. For some of us its family, or friends, career or fame, or power and position.

There is nothing wrong with any of the above…until the importance of these keeps you from following Jesus.

So, is your job holding you back? Are you willing to give up that lucrative career to take a  job using your gifts to benefit the greater good instead of your retirement account?  Are you waiting for the approval of your family before you decide to do what Jesus has put on your heart? 

Jesus asked the rich man to release something so that he could receive something; eternal life is here and now. Eternal life is based on an attitude of love and sacrificial generosity to all others.

Your alternative god is the demon that holds you back. Name it, claim it and give it up. Can you?