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Setting aside our differences

Light for the Way series

We invite you to take a peek inside our Light for the Way devotional series. Each week we provide staff with an examination of a biblical reading to deepen our focus on scripture. Thank you for engaging with this series as we seek wisdom through prayer and reflection as a Christian Ministry.

By Chaplain Stephen Richards, Optage Hospice

“A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” — Luke 22:24-26

Elections in the US have become increasingly defined by hostility and division. Political lines have been tightly drawn and there appears to be little interest in seeking compromise. Endless cycles of attack-ads dominate the media. Interactions with those we disagree with politically seem one misspoken word away from insults, anger and even violence. No wonder the common wisdom is to never talk about politics in polite company.

There was also conflict amongst Jesus' disciples. Just like those vying for power in our recent elections, they too were squabbling over who should be considered “the greatest.” In some ways, this was to be expected, as Jesus had brought together twelve individuals who were very different from each other, both socially and politically. In this Jesus was nonpartisan. He did not reject those who were different from him but welcomed them into his life to walk with him and to be his friend.

Yet when disputes did arise, what was Jesus’ response? Did he kick people out of his group, out of his life? No! It was to teach that divisions are overcome when we become servants of one another — when we seek the good of others. In God’s Kingdom, the quest for power is nullified by this call to serve. God is revealed not when one person rises above the others, but when those things which divide us are set aside. As Paul writes to the Colossians: “Rid yourselves of… anger, rage, malice, slander… put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Col 3:8-10).

Jesus was very aware that any desire to become the greatest can lead to disputes and division, which is why he rejected this opportunity when offered it by the devil (Matthew 4:8-10). Instead, he welcomed all persons and taught that when we serve the stranger, we are also serving him (Matthew 10:40). Christ is present in the lives of others, even in those we radically disagree with. In Jesus, there is no division because God’s love has been freely distributed to all through him (John 3:16). This is not to say we cannot have different political opinions, but it is instead an invitation to work to overcome our differences because “Christ is all, and is in all."

More selected readings in the Light for the Way series:
A dramatic reversal of power
Living in the unknown — finding hope in the future
Glorifying God and returning Christ's love

In addition to Light for the Way, you can find reflections, devotions, music and other resources on the Pastoral Care website

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