I am reminded of the words to an old hymn:
Blessed be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like that to that above.
We are indeed bound by the strongest tie in the universe. We are all children of the same God who lives inside each of us as the Holy Spirit. Everybody on the planet shares the same Father, who is Lord and Creator of the universe and everything within it. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget this as we are torn apart by the concerns of the material world.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs tells us that one of the basic human needs is the need for esteem. These include the need for things that reflect on self-esteem, personal worth, social recognition, and accomplishment. We all want to feel better about ourselves and seek reasons to do so. Unfortunately, this effort to build ourselves up often involves finding reasons to tear others down. This is especially true of those who are acutely aware of their own shortcomings. “I may not be much but I’m better than (fill in the blank)”.
Many churches use this as part of their evangelism. They may claim that not only are Christians better than Jews, Muslims or other religions, they may even claim that members of their church are better than members of other Christian denominations. They may even claim that members of their church are better than members of another church of the same denomination. This is great marketing. It’s a great way to make the members of your congregation feel good about themselves as members of your congregation and want to support your church with their attendance and contributions. It may be great marketing but it is lousy theology.
Who do you think created the Jew and the Muslim? Who created the Afro-American, the Native American or the Asian? Who created the alcoholic or the homosexual? Do you think God did not know what they would become? Do you think we are so smart we can sneak up on God and surprise Him? Do you think that God cannot see the future? If so, then He is limited by the same laws of physics that confine us to our particular time and place. If so, then the laws of physics are stronger than the will of God.
I consider that an impossibility. The God I worship is not bound by our limited understanding of time and space. He is indeed omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. He has already seen our future. As a matter of fact, He is seeing it right now because He is already there. He has even seen all possible futures. So no matter how smart you think you are, you are not as smart as God. He’s not going to let you sneak up on Him. He has a plan and He is watching over it to make sure the plan works.
You are part of that plan. So are all the other people you have been told you are better than. God knows what He is doing. He knew what He was doing when He created you, just as He knew what He was doing when He created all the others. So it is OK to feel good about your accomplishments. Do I feel good about myself because of my accomplishments? Yes. Do they make me better than others? No. They are fulfilling their part of the plan just as I am fulfilling mine.
We are constantly subjected to efforts by political, commercial and religious organizations to separate us from others. I am reminded of an old song by the Kingston Trio called “The Merry Minuet”:
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls.
The French hate the Germans. The Germans hate the Poles.
Italians hate Yugoslavs. South Africans hate the Dutch
And I don't like anybody very much!
We are united by the presence of the Holy Spirit, which is the tie that binds us to our Father and binds Him to us. Our ties to our country, our job or even our families will end at the end of our physical lives. But the tie that binds us to our Father is eternal. So we should not listen to the voices of those external forces which seek to tear us apart. We should listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit within us which binds us to our Father and to each other.
Blessed be the tie that binds.
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