Revolution, or Independence?
The answer to that question depends on who’s asking. Ask a Brit about the conflict that spanned eight years – from 1775 to 1783 – and they’d say revolution. Ask an American, and they’re more likely to see it through the lens of independence.
Are we in a similar period? Launched as the United States of America, we continued to expand beyond our original 13-colony footprint with land acquisitions – through treaty and through takeover – to become the 50 state federation that has set the international model for advancement and prosperity. But, today, there’s tea in the water of the harbor…
We haven’t filed for a name change, but we’ve become the Divided States of America. “Not my president” sells t-shirts; public colleges are offering courses on resistance; sanctuary cities are declaring their independence; states are looking across their borders at “the other 49” and exploring clauses in the constitutional contract that might allow secession. Everyone has become a math specialist: division is the only function in the modern social arithmetic with headlines that sell. North and South Korea are the model for modern America: a heavily guarded border is now in place between the extremes of the political spectrum. There seems to be no ideological “middle ground.”
God’s account of history – not the unabridged version, but the executive summary he wrote, called The Bible – has fascinating math milestones. In Eden, God created Adam and Eve and asked them to multiply: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’” (Genesis 1:27-28)
You know the story: after some time, sin entered the atmosphere of Paradise, and it divided Adam and Eve from God. The infection spread until God used a flood to purge the environment, and Noah & Family to reset the plan: “As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.” (Genesis 9:7)
Within generations, Babel is a gathering of rebels, and God divides humanity – by language, by territory – to isolate the spiritual virus. God chooses Abraham, then – through Isaac and Jacob – a family line through whom God would provide the ultimate antidote to sin. Jesus – the Son, himself God – to interrupt the mutation and restore the original intent: redeemed men and women, back in relationship with their Creator. The division caused by sin was neutralized; the conditions for multiplication were restored. The renewed assignment: “…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
The admonition to Adam: multiply. To Noah: multiply. To Abraham: multiply. To the Apostles: multiply. God only uses division as a disciplinary tool; his primary strategy is multiplication.
It’s no wonder that the Evil One – the Contrarian – is the polar-opposite in his effort to disrupt the divine. His specialty: division. “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought… Is Christ divided?” (1 Corinthians 1:10-13)
It shows up, constantly: marriage, or divorce? Church plant, or church split? Positive progeny, or prodigal son? Friends, or mortal enemies? Together, or separate?
When principle forces disconnect, separation can be the grievous conclusion: amputation is never the first – or preferred – option. But, apart from the rare exception: sin divides, while love multiplies.