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No Divisions Here

“You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy!”  True? It surely is true much of the time.  There are those folks throughout history that moved from their roots and lived lives that were vastly different in their adult life than they had experienced as children.  However, that is not the norm.  For the majority of us, we are truly comfortable in surroundings that most matched what we grew up experiencing in our childhood.

The attitudes and behaviors that we exude were learned behaviors we were taught by (either intentionally or by our observation) the adults that were most often around us.  If parents or key adult figures were prone to curse, those are the words that came readily to our lips.  If adults we knew had racial bias, then we were reared to believe we were “different” from all others whatever our race may be.  If our childhood home was a fearful place due to arguing and abuse, the children of that atmosphere have to be radically transformed with great intentionality to offer a different climate in which their children are reared.

Perhaps the greatest lines of division in the 21st century are economic.  The middle class in America is shrinking as many citizens are discovering ways to make lots of money moving those in the Upper Middle Class into zones of the wealthy and well-to-do.  And, the sad converse is also true.  Those that struggle to make ends meet find it more difficult than ever to get ahead. As a result, it is not difficult to spot the wealthy in crowds or to spot the poor or struggling adult or child.  Tragically, some of those that are highly successful tend to see “all” of the poor as lazy, inept, or just not strong in their work ethic.  While that is the case sometimes, there are many that work extremely hard, but the jobs they have are low paying.  It is not lack of effort.  Rather, it is the difficulty to find work that compensates adequately to better meet financial demands of their family.

Churches experience segregation also.  Some make it clear that they have no intention of trying to change anything in their church to reach out to the young.  Others have changed everything to make sure that young people are the targeted audience and senior adults are really not comfortable there by design.  Some churches are “silk stocking” folks while others are ministry centers in the inner city that continually reaches the down and out.  The model that is nearest to the New Testament is the church that is diverse in every way, focuses on the Bible solely as their foundation for operation, preaches the love and forgiveness of Jesus, and ministers to all people of all backgrounds both “inside” and “outside” of the church.

It was related that once when the Duke of Wellington remained to take communion at his parish church, a very poor old man went up to the opposite aisle, and reaching the Communion table, knelt down close by the side of the Duke. (Immediately, tension and commotion interrupted the silence of the church.) Someone came and touched the poor man on the shoulder, and whispered to him to move farther away, or to rise and wait until the Duke had received the bread and the wine.  But the eagle eye and the quick ear of the great commander caught the meaning of that touch and that whisper. He clasped the old man’s hand and held him to prevent his rising; and in a reverential but distinct undertone, the Duke said, “Do not move; we are equal here.”  (copied).