I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. - 1 Corinthians 1:10 NLT
I can’t begin to describe my anticipation for the new Marvel movie, Captain America: Civil War. The Avengers find themselves at an impasse; unable to settle the differences of how and when they should use their power. It’s Captain America versus Iron Man in this next film and I’m all aboard for Team Cap.
I recently watched the trailer for the movie and it got me thinking about the psychology behind division. Last semester, I read a book that significantly impacted my life. The Arbinger Institut’s, Leadership and Self-Deception tackles WHY there is division in families, organizations, and teams. I want to highlight a couple of points from the book. My hope is that you use these principles as a stethoscope to check on the internal sounds that are going off in your soul.
Many debilitating health issues can be prevented by simultaneously being aware of symptoms and having a system (exercise physiology, functional nutrition, etc) in place that is preventative in design. The goal here is to spot illness before it leaves you incapacitated; to deal with the symptoms before they leave you debilitated. Remember, you’re not considered healthy just because you’re not sick. If you’re unhealthy there is a high probability that you’re going to get sick.
An act contrary to what I feel I should do for another. When I feel I should pay a person a compliment, encourage someone, smile, do something sacrificial and I don’t do it I betray myself. When I betray myself, I begin to see the world in a way that justifies what I did or did not do. If I betray myself, my thoughts and feelings will begin to tell me that I’m justified in whatever I’m doing or failing to do.
It can be so easy to inflate other people’s faults while minimizing your own. You end up inflating your own virtue while simultaneously trashing the other person’s actions and motives.
When I betray a thought or feeling I begin to justify that betrayal. I see the world in a self-justifying way, my view of reality becomes distorted. I end up playing the blame game and using other people as an excuse for my victimization and lack of advancement. People spend their whole lives blaming other folks, making excuses, and not looking at themselves in the mirror and conducting an honest assessment of their thoughts and actions.
Over time, as we betray ourselves, we come to see ourselves in various self-justifying ways. We end up carrying these self-justifying images with us into new situations (marriage, job, kids).
Let’s say you have a self-justifying image that is based on the premise of you being a know-it-all. How do you suppose you’ll feel towards someone who suggests something new to you? You’ll probably end up resenting him or finding something wrong with the suggestion. Now imagine this happening more often than not. You’ll begin to develop a reputation as a wise guy and will probably deter people from engaging you with new ideas because you’re so quick to shoot them down or debate them. You’d limit your opportunity to learn anything new.
Self-justification is dangerous. It impedes on unity because you’re so locked in to a way of thinking about yourself that there is no room for adjustment. If a team, group, ministry is going to be successful in interpersonal relationships there has to be space for adjustment. You have to be willing to re-calibrate a bit of your individuality for the common cause of the group. I’m not advocating communism (for all you McCarthyites out there) and a complete eradication of your personality. Scripture says that God gives us special gifts. We are all unique, but remember that those gifts are given to help one another not to promote ourselves, our ideas, and our agendas.
Yikes. This one is not good. Self-deception occurs when we’re blind to the glaring problems we have. Self-deception is quit effective at thwarting unity because you sincerely believe that you don’t have a problem when in actuality your problem is causing friction, division, and dissension.
STRESS ON DIFFERENCES
Instead of concentrating on what divides us, we should remember what unites us: one body, one spirit, one future, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God! You have to learn to appreciate people who are different from you. We have to learn to enjoy the way we members of Christ’s body complement one another.
We must take great care of our heart. We can unknowingly be carriers of these traits that ruin harmony. And like a virus that is highly contagious, as we come in contact with others we start to infect those around us. The culture becomes sick. What’s the cure? To wash your hands. To repent and ask God for a clean heart. A heart that is harmonious.
When unity is achieved powerful things happen. Great things happen. From the great armies of old, mighty kingdoms, construction projects, and the early church, we have seen time and time again throughout history glimpses of the power of true unity.
You have an opportunity right now to be a part of something bigger than yourself. God’s church is on the move! Don’t miss this opportunity to be a part of something special. We don’t want to live our lives with missed opportunities. It’s time to stop living with regrets. No more should’ve, would’ve, could’ve(s). Let’s get on board together as a people and do something really special in this city.
I’m Harold Dorrell Briscoe. Thanks for reading.