Parenthesis Closed

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.


A subset. 

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.

A subset?


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.

Tribes.  Subsets.

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.

Subsets. Closed.

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.

If X = (Recipient of God’s grace), then X = (Anyone

Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. (Revelation 22:17b)

It may be bad mathematics, but it is seriously good grace.

It may be bad mathematics, but it is seriously good grace. Click To Tweet

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. 

4 thoughts on “Parenthesis Closed

  1. It is all too easy and all too common to place ourselves in subsets – we tend to gravitate toward those with similar interests and beliefs. I think it’s human nature to do so.
    But as Christians, we are commanded to break free from those subsets, and reach out in love to others who might think/act/look different from ourselves. That is the challenge.
    Paul, this is an excellent wake-up call to all of us.

  2. I’m sure it isn’t irony the Lord led my eyes to this post in our common Facebook (tribe).
    A house divided…
    The enemy is having a blast as hecsits back and laughs at the body of Christ. And yes, God cries for us. I feel it. Heck, I just wrote a blog post stating that the state of His body was causing Jesus the weep tears from heaven.
    I believe those of us whom are successfully able to blur the lines between denominations, conservative and liberal and stay in His place of peace, have been given a great responsibility in this season.
    Not only among believers but also in changing the current negative perspective of non-Christians (and this includes some whom have left the church) and refocusing eyes on the Lord and away from the world.
    I’ve never understood where this whole “find your tribe” thing came from other than it being a trend, and much like Jesus I don’t follow trends. Nor do I fit into a mold. As a Christian artsist especially I don’t.
    I’d tead deeper if you decide yo explore. I’m in the midst of publishing and scribing a series of posts about the body of Christ vs church. May I quote you and link back to this article if the HS leads in the next part?

    In His Grace

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Stacey. We are blessed to live in such days (although it doesn’t always feel like a blessing), but, having received so much from God’s hand, love must give much in return. I too am saddened by the responses I see from so many. May we be willing to be outside the walls and in the world, while remaining firmly on His path.

      Feel free to quote the piece (with attribution please) if it is helpful at all.

      Blessings, my friend!


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