Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. Many people would travel from far and wide to bring Solomon their disputes hopeful for a favorable judgement. Two women had a babies at the same time, one died and there was a dispute as to the mother of the baby that still had life. So Solomon answered logically, “divide the child in two”. How is dividing a child logical? An object desired by two parties and unable to be shared, must be divided.
There appeared to be a dispute in the Church in Rome. Both the Gentile and Jewish Christians each desired the baby as their own. The Gentiles had an understanding of their faith that was not steeped in Jewish law and customs. The Jewish followers of Jesus had grown up with customs and festivals that helped identify their faith. This is a big deal. In fact, you will find large portion of the Pauline letters deal specifically with the tension between Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus. Paul, channeling Solomon’s wisdom, systematically tears down both claims by the proving Jesus can not be divided. Paul is inspiring and motivating a church at the heart of the most explosive city in the world to unify under the banner of faith in Jesus Christ.
No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. Genesis 17
All these years later and with all that we know, yet we are still trying to divide the baby. Maybe not in the same way as the Church in Rome, but in many other ways. Hermeneutics, eschatology, Christology and theology have various divisions created in the Church. But the baby can not be divided. Paul hits on this in his letter to the Church in Corinth. Is Christ divided?
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 1 Corinthians 1
I can’t help but think of our previous topic of boasting this when I hear of a pastor publicly shaming another church or pastor because of a non-essential issue. What is the motivation? It elevates self and diminishes someone else. Pastoral and denominational boasting rips the acceptance God provides through faith and places into “works of the law”. It rips every response from Jesus’ mouth during the wilderness temptation and replaces it with “Yes”. Boasting gives confidence and a feeling of acceptance that was always supposed to come from faith in Jesus. A right standing with God only comes through faith in Jesus. The baby can not be divided. Jesus can not be divided.
23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. Revelation 21
I believe Paul chose the story of Abraham because he symbolizes both Jews and Gentiles. Jews, because he was given the promise and the symbol. Gentiles, because he was considered righteous before either. Father Abraham reminds all of us that we are united in humility and trust, not pride and arrogance. And that one day we will all be reunited when God fixes the broken, heals the sick and fulfills his glorious work.
Was Abraham was considered righteous because of a worship style, doctrinal leaning or a political viewpoint? No. Are those issues and ideologies important? Yes. However, they do not make us right in the eyes of God.
I challenge you to be intentional in unifying actions this week. Speak well about others, build one another up, give someone the benefit of the doubt, be transparent, don’t be a self-promoter, be a Jesus-promoter, a God that created all things promoter. Remember, true love never wants the baby divided.
May God work in and through you this week.