Against Factions Among Christians
Christian community is always under threat by the Evil One. But, as C.S. Lewis reveals in his ʺScrewtape Letters,ʺ the devil’s greatest success has been to make people believe that he no longer exists. That is why Paul tells the Romans, ʺFor while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I want you to be wise about what is good, and simple as to what is evil.ʺ Evil’s purpose is to divide us from Christ. That is why Paul wants us to ʺwatch out for those who create divisions and obstacles. in opposition to the teaching that you learned; avoid them.ʺ Romans 16:17
What does Paul mean by wise? Wisdom is the love of God alone. Anything less than God, Paul tells us, must be avoided. A true servant of God draws all attention to God and not to him or herself. A true servant of God serves only God, not God AND money, not God AND fame. ʺNo one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be a slave both of God and of money.ʺ (Matthew 6:24)
The Evil One has been very successful in dividing Christians throughout the centuries, and continues to do so today. It does not matter to him whether we are divided from within, breaking away from one another in ever smaller Churches and factions, or if he is able to separate us from God and the Christian community altogether. Either option is a success for him.
The true Christian community is always God-centered and, therefore, rooted in love. It is not insular, looking out only for its own. It is hospitable and welcoming to all. It stands up for those who are treated unjustly. It worries not about how the world sees it, only about how God sees it. It depends on, and puts all of its faith in God alone. Because of this it is the source of all joy to those who are with God, and a source of reproach to all who hate God.
During this Lenten period, let us pray that Christians find ways to talk to one another, and to recognize their oneness in Jesus Christ. Let our various communities and churches come together often in prayer. Let us support one another in the effort to live in union with Christ, and him alone. Amen.