Division almost always means disaster

Published 10:14 pm Tuesday, May 10, 2016

By Michael Brooks
Brooks is a pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church and adjunct instructor at Jefferson State Community College.

I mentioned in my Mother’s Day sermon that President Woodrow Wilson gave us the first Mother’s Day in 1914. The backdrop of this story is intriguing and instructive.

Wilson was serving as governor of New Jersey when supporters urged him to seek the presidency. His path in 1912 was made a bit easier when he faced down two Republican rivals, not just one. Former President Teddy Roosevelt decided he wanted to make a comeback, regretting his decision not to seek re-election. The problem was that his successor, William Howard Taft, who had been Roosevelt’s vice-president, had no intention of stepping aside. Republicans renominated Taft, not Roosevelt. Roosevelt was so angry he formed a third party, the Bull Moose Party. Both Republicans polled 50 percent of the vote, but since they split it, Wilson won with 41 percent of the vote.

Incidentally, it was Wilson’s vice president, Thomas Marshall, who is principally known for his observation, “What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar.” And it was while campaigning as a Bull Moose that Roosevelt famously was shot and continued his speech as planned since his speech papers inside his coat pocket slowed down the assassin’s bullet.

It’s interesting that Roosevelt demolished his legacy, demoralized his successor and still made Mt. Rushmore! I might make some application to today’s political climate, but I’m not a political commentator. The point I make is that division almost always means disaster. King David wrote long ago: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1). It is good for a nation to seek unity, but it’s imperative for the church. Satan defeats God’s people when he causes us to turn against ourselves.

I was pastor of a church years ago where two brothers attended with their families. I soon learned, however, that the brothers hated each other. It boiled down to the inheritance their father left them, and how they disagreed on the proceeds. The brothers entered worship from different doors so they wouldn’t have to speak to one another.

Whereas I was grateful to have a chance to preach to them week-by-week, I never understood the hypocrisy of singing “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God” when they weren’t.

The Apostle Paul shared a golden nugget of human relations in Ephesians 4: “Let your moderation be known unto all men” (v. 5). One translator rendered the word “moderation” as “sweet reasonableness.” God’s people should never insist on their way to the exclusion of the beliefs and feelings of others, but instead should seek to get along with every brother and sister in Christ as the Bible commands.

Division almost always means disaster.