Silencing Voices of Division

Gwen Smith Blog, Worship 14 Comments

I’m obsessed with gymnastics and figure skating. Obsessed. For two weeks, every four years. You know… like everyone else in America… when the Winter Olympics games come around. Pour me a bowl of Wheaties, hand me a flag with stars and stripes, and let’s get it on! Stick that landing! Land that triple salchow! You got this! USA! USA! USA!

And you can’t miss the opening ceremonies!

There’s just a beyond-ness to them! Bright colors. Epic music. Intricate costumes.

Athletes from every nation, coming together in harmony. The pride of each country celebrating their unique heritages, while at the same time vibrantly displaying the beauty of humanity that binds us all together.

Songs are sung, dances are danced, and joy rises to a climax as a well-traveled, flaming stick enters the arena. Eyes from all across the globe watch in wonder as the Olympic Torch ignites. The world melts together. One people. One celebration. A big ole’ global party.

And it feels right to love each other. To look beyond politics, religion, race and culture. To honor each life as valuable. To see and celebrate a different kind of beautiful.

But voices of division yell loud as I watch the news.

Differences spark flames of contention in conversations on social media, and fear tells us to look straight ahead, stick to what we know, and stay with our own.

And it feels wrong to spew venom and wound each other. To allow chains of politics, religion, race and culture to choke us into ungodly bondage that keeps us from His grace and perfect will. To keep us from living love – from reaching out – from coming together at the foot of the cross.

Psalm 67 calls for worship among all the nations. A prelude of sorts to the New Testament’s Great Commission, these verses invite all of humanity to gather around the Eternal Flame in praise. Red, brown, yellow, black and white. Vibrant beauty.

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

(Psalm 67:1-3)

All the peoples.

One people.

One celebration.

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.

(Psalm 67:4-6)

A big ole’ God party, celebrating the One who rides on the very clouds He spoke into existence. Our personal, loving Savior who heals the brokenhearted, cares for the widows and wounded, and rescues the orphaned and abandoned.

God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!

(Psalm 67:7)

This is your invitation to a grand, global celebration. Sing a new song. A song of praise. Let it rise to the Maker of all the peoples – to the One who’s got the whole world in His hands.

Extend your hands and expand your heart beyond division… beyond that which seeks to limit God’s love, grace and power to save.

And worship wholeheartedly right where you are. I’m singing right beside you.

Holy Father,
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. Bind me to Your grace and help me to love well. Give me eyes to see beyond differences, and courage to speak life.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE

What’s one thing that divides your heart from those around you? What’s on small step you could take today to move you forward? Tell me on the wall of my blog or on Instagram.

LOVE doing life with you!

GWEN


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Comments 14

  1. Thank you! This devotion spoke directly to my heart and situation today.
    Simple words can cause division. Thank you for shining a light on how to silence the voices and Love everyone.

    So happy for this confirmation😊

  2. Hi Gwen. Your devo today seemed oh so wonderful on the rainbows and flowery surface. However, going deeper, let us not forget that Christians in their eagerness to downplay politics within the Church and bury their heads in the sand will be held responsible for the murder of millions of babies on the altar of convenience and the destruction of millions through homosexual activism through their silence.  “When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.  Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.” (Ezekiel 3:18-19)

  3. Gwen your words today met a new resolve in me to stop judging others and find the things that are good in each person I meet today. Thank you for reminding me that it all begins with me and my attitude toward others.

  4. Oh GWEN,
    I’m so saddened by some of the comments above. I turn, each morning, to your devotion as part of my morning meditation. It’s my time of peace and reflection before the friction of the day begins. Instead of that today, I’m reading the same opinionated comments that fill radio, TV and other social media with hatred and division. I pray that we all might live out the prayer “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me”.
    Kathy

  5. In another devotion I read it spoke of being a “rightaholic”. I will have to admit, that is something from which I suffer. I was reminded that it is more important to be “right with others” instead of always being the one who is “right”. That is an area that I need to improve. Your writings remind me of Romans 12:18: If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

  6. Good morning from Aurora, Canada Gwen! My prayer today is that there be peace on Earth. May it start from my heart, extend to my home, out through my hands to our world and all God’s people. As I go to my work as a middle school teacher, I pray for the kids on my class and their families, that my words and actions show God’s love and light. Amen!

  7. I was hoping that there was more from Gwen Smith. We know that prayer works, that living and giving and receiving in love is the right answer, nut like one of the posts above folks are getting physically and spiritually sick over the state that this country is in. I’m one of those that just looks ahead and up, not to mt left or right. Staying the course and being the hands and feet of God here. Maybe we are to shut it all down! Email, social media and especially TV. Get into the word one on one, in a group or within your family. Step out and feed the poor and homeless, donate clothing to organizations that give them away to the needy. Volunteer at hospitals and nursing homes. Read to children at the library, become a big sister or big brother. Hug someone you love and just listen to them. Focus on someone else and God will focus on you.

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      Author

      Dodi,

      Thanks for joining in on the conversation and sharing your heart, here. As I’m sure you realize, a devotional post is not a comprehensive action plan, but instead a heart directive to present a Scriptural truth. While I don’t go to the depths of vetting out practical action points, you can see from my response to one of the comments below that I share in your heart to make a difference in practical ways that honor God and His will for us to be difference makers. Keep living His love in ways that matter, friend. And thanks for doing life with me here!

      Blessings and grace,

      GWEN

  8. Our pastor is in a teaching series leading up to Easter that addresses many of the concerns expressed here, in your post Gwen, as well as the comments. I find myself at odds with family members who feel differently than I do. I’ve stopped posting on Facebook. For a while, I tried to only post funny, lighthearted posts filled with encouragement, but people stopped responding. I called out one person in particular who was posting racist, hateful (and untrue) memes and was told… “It’s my Facebook page and I’ll post whatever I want.” This same person is a Christian but believes God intended for us to remain separate races. Between the differences in politics, unbiblical teachings and beliefs, I find myself becoming increasingly isolated. I don’t have any answer except PRAYER. The older I get, the more I long for the peace of my eternal home.

  9. I feel this subject needs to be addressed more fully somewhere, maybe in a book. Because of the huge political divide that the evangelical right has signed onto, I’m seeing so much hatred. I don’t recognize those with whom I’ve taken Communion with in the past. It truly grieves my heart. I don’t feel comfortable at church anymore. A couple of these churches I know practice the God and Country kind of Christianity, which in my opinion is idolatry. Any time we put God “and” (insert favorite idea) we are in trouble. I wish we had followed the Constitution’s Separation of Church and State. Now, it has devolved into a quest for power. Christians were never meant to have power. Jesus gave His power up for our sake! We are to imitate Him. He never meant for us to force our agenda. He meant for us to be humble, to love others, to help the broken, and mend the wounds of the suffering; to allow the Holy Spirit to change hearts. That is my Jesus.

    I don’t believe that Trump is God’s choice, unless it was meant to teach us how far from Jesus we have gotten. I feel God basically gave us our desires, which are shown to be twisted from what God’s desires are for us. I have tried to engage in civil discourse on social media hoping to have a respectful dialog, but eventually the hatred turns into personal insults, and I refuse to do the same.

    I’m fearful for our future. I’ve voted Republican and Democratic in the past depending on the candidate (except for 2016 when I voted Independent). Never have I been overly concerned if the other party would win. I have heartburn daily, I may be working toward an ulcer.

    I know we are to be in church community with each other. But this community is too hard to stomach. I don’t know what to do, but cry out to God to make things right.

  10. Trump and the evangelical right and FOX news that has done more damage to the Christian faith. What can I do to bridge the division. I try to provide commentary on social media to demonstrate the hypocrisy.

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      Author

      Hi Martha,

      While I appreciate your conviction, I don’t believe it’s this simple. Not one cable news channel is unbiased and not one segment of our society or elected official is always right or always wrong. Part of the problem I see is that the narrative being fed to us through the media (liberal and conservative alike) is often toxic, sensationalist and divisive. In many cases they speak partial truths and craft perspectives that will resonate with viewers. Instead of blaming any particular elected official or a specific cable news channel, I’m convinced the Bible invites believers to engage in a different dialog and a nuanced response that focuses on the grace and truth Jesus came to teach us. As I wrote in the post above…

      “Differences spark flames of contention in conversations on social media, and fear tells us to look straight ahead, stick to what we know, and stay with our own.

      And it feels wrong to spew venom and wound each other. To allow chains of politics, religion, race and culture to choke us into ungodly bondage that keeps us from His grace and perfect will. To keep us from living love – from reaching out – from coming together at the foot of the cross.”

      My prayer is that those of us who love Jesus and want to honor HIM in all things will do MORE PRAYING and LESS FIGHTING. More soul searching and less finger pointing. More service to the widows, weak, poor and orphaned and less hoarding of our time, talents and treasures.

      Love and peace to you, friend.
      GWEN

      1. Gwen,

        It does make a huge difference to spend personal time in the Bible and prayer. I have an opinion about politics and the current events, and I don’t want to depend only on my experiences and what I consider the truth, but I want to depend on God to show me what I can not see on. my own. Hatred comes in all colors, sizes and shapes and is led by Satan. We must never forget that God is in total control over all situations and persons.

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