There have always been divisions. But are they all bad? Are some even necessary?
Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. ( 1 Corinthians 1:10)
Recently, a faithful, truthful and loving priest, among so many others of his kind was asked to resign because he was told he was “ineffective and divisive”. That word seems so terrible yet so common these days. And yes, we are to strive to speak one and all, as Christian brothers, in unity. (1 Corinthians 1:10) But what if some are preaching lies and disobedience to scripture? What if our Shepherds and leaders ignore that some are preaching lies and disobedience? Can we have unity then? What was Jesus’ answer? As Luke 12:51 ( and also in Matthew) tells us: Jesus answers us with a another paradox, something Chesterton, sometimes called the “Prince of Paradox”, knew only too well.
Do you think that I came to provide peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; ( Luke 12:51)
Our Lord said he came to cause divisions. We know that. Scripture tells us so. So according to the recent accusation against a faithful priest, will Jesus Christ be removed for “causing divisions”, too? It may seem like a silly, even impertinent question to ask but when our Lord says He came to cause divisions, it behooves us to understand why and what kind. And then consider if we should accept a faithful brother being maligned.
In this case, those divisions wouldn’t be there if we all would love the truth more than we love other things. That’s what the unity in 1 Corinthians must be based on. Indeed St. Paul emphasizes this when he says: ” but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment“. Can we agree on things that break God’s laws? Clearly not. So why do others try to twist and pervert this understanding, this correct theology? The Prince of Peace warned us why. Because some would love relationships over Him, they would love power over Him, and they would love office and money over Him.
So let’s read the rest of what 1 Corinthians 12: 51-53 has to say about enduring divisions so that we may have only the kind of unity Christ wants – true unity based on His commands, not a fake “unity” that compromises what you and I know God said ‘no’ to for the sake of a dark “peace”:
“Do you think that I came to provide peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Chesterton had his share of divisions among friends as well. Three in particular, George Bernard Shaw, Rudyard Kipling, and H.G. Wells felt the loving refutation of his pen on numerous occasions. Chesterton spared nothing in defending the truth even though these were counted among his close acquaintances and peers.
In 1915, a young American writer by the name of Robert Cortes Holliday came to England to meet with several authors and Chesterton was one of them. In his short portrait from The Walking Stick Papers, he notes that Chesterton recognized even a division between Americans and his beloved England on a number of things.
“Well, it is very flattering to be told that one is so well known in America. But so he had heard before. Describes himself as a “philosophical journalist.” Did not know that there was an audience in America for his kind of writing. Wonders whether democracy as carried on there “on such a gigantic scale” can keep right on successfully. Admits a division between our two peoples. “Trenches have been dug between us,” he declares.”
Yes, in this world, in this country, even in the Church and our families, as we grow closer to Christ in our obedience, there are going to be “Trenches [ that] have been dug between us” as Chesterton puts it. But we must always stand in unity with those who tell the truth. That’s the Christian paradox of divisions and unity.