”For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” - Romans 3:23
The apostle Paul said that the dividing line between good and evil is not between Jew and gentile, nor is it between male and female, nor bond servant and free man (Galatians 3:28).
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, imprisoned in the Soviet gulag, found that the dividing line between good and evil was not between captor and captive.
Viktor Frankl, his life daily at risk in Auschwitz, found that the line wasn’t between Jew and German.
Martin Luther King Jr proclaimed that it’s not between black and white.
The widespread resounding failure of Marxist theory taught us that it’s not between rich and poor.
Neither is it between Republican and Democrat, nor between Liberal and Labor, or conservative and progressive.
Rather, the dividing line between good and evil cuts somewhere across each and every human heart. “For all have sinned and come short of glory...”
The unfortunate propensity of the prevailing opinion to assign collective guilt to groups is one of the biggest dangers of our age. It is unbiblical, unethical and immoral. It doesn’t belong in a liberal democracy and it is a blemish on the modern Church to follow the secular trend.
Yet, men are accused of all that ails women. Whites are accused of all that limits blacks, and the rich are obviously responsible for the afflictions of the poor.
There have been times in the world‘s history when these have been true, and there are places in the world where they are still true. But it is not a matter of one group possessing the will to oppress and the other merely being the innocent and sinless oppressed. It is only a matter of the one group having greater means to oppress than the other.
Many of the first slaves to arrive in the New World long before it was called the United States of America were Irish.
It would have been dangerous, costly and time consuming for Europeans to scour the African interior for slaves, that task was outsourced to other Africans.
The American Indian was as formidable as his European foe and the Australian Aborigine as fierce as his.
Human history and human nature teach that what separates the conqueror from the conquered is not the will to evil inherent in the colour of his skin, his gender or his religion; what separates the conquered from the conquerer is merely the means to conquer.
No one can say with honesty that he believes that history would be any different had white man been the native of North America or Australia, and the Indian or Aborigine the sophisticated newcomers.
Long before white man reached new shores, they conquered one another. Likewise, Indian conquered Indian and Aborigine conquered Aborigine.
As for men and women, there is no history of men and women striving against one another in matters of survival or resources. As a general rule, the human race has survived as a result of cooperation and the successful division of labour between the sexes.
It can be claimed that labour is unfairly divided between men and women, or remuneration for labour at least. Call me old fashioned, but inequality in matters of position or pay, if such inequality exists, is more than a mild distraction from what is important.
There was a time when I would have said that a shared national identity was what is important. Then I would have said that equality before the law was more important again. But equal identity will unite us in tradition only, and equality before the law will unite only as far as what the state can give or take away.
Real unity is in spirit. What is important is not the contrivances of equality or national identity, for these things are artificial and unnatural. What is important is a spirit of unity; an almost intangible, yet quite real, sense of oneness. Unity isn’t only the best of what’s natural, it is the substance of the supernatural, it’s the Father, Son and Spirit, through the unity of whom the natural was created.
Only one thing in the history of humankind has united humanity in all its diversity and complexity. That is Jesus Christ. Religion has certainly caused much strife in the broad spectrum of human affairs. But an aware follower of Christ doesn’t typically categorise himself as a religious man. For he knows better than to think that ritual much less than the mere doctrine of men or church will save him a place in heaven.
One of my favourite movie quotes is from the film Kingdom of Heaven. I can’t recall the name of the character who said, “I don’t put much stock in religion. I have seen too much murder in the eyes of religious men.”
Jesus didn’t command nor call us to be religious men. when asked which commandment in the law was the greatest, he replied “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, though shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
Paul writes likewise to the Roman church, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
Nowhere therein can any instruction be found which requires the burning of incense. Nor does it forbid the eating of this and not that. Nor does it require items of prayer or the worship of relics or adoration for the remains of martyrs. It certainly contains no call to violence in the name of God.
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” - James 1:27. To follow Jesus is not to become a religious man. To follow Jesus is to love others as he is loved by God and as we are loved by him. This is where there is unity. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” There do we walk on the side of good over evil in our own heart.
Laws create material equality, nationhood creates equality of tradition. Jesus Christ brings unity - not peace - but unity in spirit, by inviting all to walk on the right side of the line between the good and evil that exists in every single human heart.