Within the Ancient Near East was the great nation of Israel, God’s chosen people. This nation prospered for many years under the leadership of kings who were powerful, wise and just. The Bible explains that God blessed his people and made them into a great nation, a nation to be feared and respected. But it was not to last. With the death of a king, a power struggle for the nation of Israel ensued resulting in a divided nation; northern Israel and southern Judah. As I have been reading through 1 and 2 Kings in the Bible, I have watched the fate of Israel unfold into chaos and turmoil. Their ultimate demise began when this mighty nation was severed into two, disconnected, detached and disengaged from one another. This disunity brought about many enemies, seeing them as easy prey to dismantle and conquer.
While reading, I couldn’t help but realize a similarity. Something about this story feels familiar and rather fresh. This book that was written over hundreds and thousands of years ago continues to hold relevancy in our present-day world. Though the United States of America remains united geographically, disunity has taken hold of the American hearts; we are very much not united. The health care, political and social climate in America today is that of great unrest. It has divided our nation; right and left, wrong and right, black and white, justice and injustice, love and hate.
My mind goes to that quote, “a house divided”. Most people believe Abraham Lincoln to be the one who coined this phrase, when in fact he was simply reiterating what he had read in the Bible. Matthew 12:25 says, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid to waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand”. Though this be a mere metaphor, Lincoln believed in its powerful imagery. And it remains powerful still today. Not only was this statement true for America, but if we look back in history numerous other countries and nations have experienced division and disunity. Time and time again, division was their ultimate destruction. It is within hardened hearts that disunity thrives. A hardened heart expels all kindness, love, empathy and compassion. As we continue to dig our feet deeper and deeper into what we think and believe, we close off ourselves from the opportunity of looking at a situation through a different perspective. So long as we persist in isolating ourselves, disunity only grows stronger. With isolation comes disunity, with disunity comes division and a house divided cannot stand.
I am a firm believer in everyone’s right to an opinion and everyone’s right to freedom of speech. These are some of the many freedoms I am grateful for. That being said, I also am a firm believer of listening and taking into account other people’s point of view. This country needs many things right now; chief among them, in my humble opinion, is a soft heart. When we consciously choose to let down our guard and put aside our preconceived ideas, it opens up the heart for others to pour into. As we move from an immovable place of stubbornness to a place of openness, a soft heart is created allowing a generous outpour of love, grace and kindness. This country would (and could) look much differently if only we could soften our hearts.
If you’re wondering whatever happened to the Israelite nation, their disunity only continued to grow. Centuries and centuries worth of isolation and hard hearts prevented this nation from unity, which they so desperately needed. Through a softened heart, unity can spring forth; that’s what we desperately need.
And that’s the dirt!