Romans is one of my favorite books in the Bible. Today it opened to the end of Romans:
I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who create dissensions and obstacles, in opposition to the teaching that you learned; avoid them. For such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the innocent. For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I want you to be wise as to what is good, and simple as to what is evil; then the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
“Watch out for those who create dissensions and obstacles.” I feel like that is all of us at some point or another. Think about all of the arguments that occur every day, in your own life, in the world. Think about all of the ways that we classify each other or otherwise try to draw lines of distinction between us and others. Think about all the times we try to feel better about ourselves at the expense of others. How many times do we start arguments or otherwise create separation between us and others? Watch out for everyone? Watch out for ourselves?
This one is hard for me, because I feel like I live in dissension. Sometimes I even thrive on it. I need to recognize that every time I argue, or try to place myself above others, or classify or rank individuals into groups, I create dissension. And in doing so, I am certainly not serving the Lord, instead I am serving my own appetite, my own desire to feel right. I am flattering myself and deceiving myself from what is right and what is good. This false flattery weakens us, weakens me — it doesn’t make us better, it doesn’t make us right. It pulls us away from God and his purpose for us. It pulls us away from love.
Let us be wise to what is good and simple to what is evil. Let us reject the dissension around us (and that sometimes bubbles up inside us (me)). Let us recognize it for what it is. Provide us with the peace of knowing your love and knowing that there is enough for all of us. We do not need to fight over it or try to put ourselves above others to receive it. Help us to share your love.