Three of these things belong together.
Three of these things are kind of the same.
From childhood, we learn it. Things that are similar belong together. Even educational television programs teach the concept. Things that do their own thing don’t belong.
From our youth, we have followed the theory.
Somehow, we misunderstood the idea. With disastrous results, we misunderstood, thinking it could mean people, when it only meant things.
That was the word he used. Subset.
It was the night of the Super Bowl. I don’t live for sports, but it seemed to be the thing to do, so I watched the game. Exciting action. Really.
I didn’t watch the halftime of the game. I had work that needed to be done before I went to bed that night. I said as much. But, I also made the mistake of posting a comment that seemed to denigrate the halftime entertainment. It was intended to be a comment about the hype leading up to the act, but several took it as criticism of the entertainer herself. And, as could be expected, there were a few folk who echoed the inferred slight.
Then one friend, who held a different viewpoint, entered the conversation. Not understanding, nor agreeing with, the direction the comments had taken, he suggested that I and my other friends were an interesting subset of our society.
We’re still friends. He didn’t mean it to be an insult and said so, apologizing. I believe him. He is my friend.
And yet, I’m concerned.
What if he’s right?
The big thing in our culture right now is to find your tribe. Writers. Artists. Musicians. Professionals. Gamers.
Like the folks in the television bar, Cheers, we want to be where everybody knows our name.
So we really are subsets. We gather in groups where we have things in common. We don’t waste time on those who don’t fit the pattern.
Oh, I know the gurus insisting we need a tribe add the thought that we need diversity, but what they mean is we’ll accept diversity in non-essential aspects. Just as long as folks pass the litmus tests for the really important things we stand for.
I remember learning a concept when I was very young. It was one of the most effective principles in winning any game.
Centuries old, the phrase was known before the time of Christ.
Divide et impera. Divide and rule. Commonly, we quote it as Divide and conquer.
The concept assumes the invading enemy, the power that intends to rule, will divide those it has come to war against.
In our day, we who claim to be followers of Christ, have made it our duty—yes, our duty—to do the deed for the enemy ourselves.
Liberal believers write oceans of words condemning the evangelical church to hell for abandoning the poor and downtrodden. Conservative believers publish scathing papers trashing anyone who could consider homosexuals as part of the Body, and denying the possibility of salvation to anyone who would support abortion.
Tribes. Locked in battle.
I have asked the question before, thinking about a different situation, but I ask it again now: Does God cry?
Do you suppose this would be enough to bring tears to His eyes? Is He weeping over us today, as His Son did over Jerusalem? (Luke 19:41)
I’m no mathematician. I don’t understand sets and subsets.
This I do know: God never closed the equation.
It may be bad mathematics, but it is seriously good grace.
Every tribe. Every nation. Every language. Every people group. (Revelation 7:9)
All of these things belong together…
What a gathering!
It’s time to break out of our subsets.
Who’s going over the wall with me?
I am in them and You are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent me and that You love them as much as You love me.
(John 17:23 ~ NLT)
In real life, I assure, there is no such thing as algebra.
(Fran Lebowitz ~ American author/public speaker)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2017. All Rights Reserved.