Meridian Star

October 19, 2013

A house divided

By Ron Wood / guest columnist
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — Can feuding factions in the same house ever be a good thing? Or is it bad for a family, a nation, a city, a business, or a church for two opposing viewpoints to frequently clash? The answer is not obvious. Something deeper may be involved.

    Our Savior, when accused of driving out demons by Satan's power, saying that a "house divided against itself" is not able to stand. He warned not to attribute the Holy Spirit's work to the devil.

    Christ's accusers went beyond disagreeing with his methods to slandering his motives and calling him a phony. Plus here is a theological point: they thought Satan had power to do miracles but God did not. Modern skeptics - even believers - often do the same thing.

    Competing ideas are not bad. A great history book by Joyce Kearns Goodwin about Abraham Lincoln was entitled "A Team of Rivals." His presidential leadership kept strong opponents united for the sake of the nation. The value of a team is not its homogeneity but its diversity if it achieves unity of purpose.

    This is true for sports teams and for teams that lead a government or a business, like a President and his cabinet, or like a CEO and her board of directors.

    If we join together for the sake of an important task or mission, and if we all think just alike, then some of us are unnecessary. The value of a team is its differing viewpoints, if it can unite in a course of action like a husband and wife in their parenting role. Two diverse views unite as leaders for the family’s good.

    People can see things differently and still love each other. If leaders will love our nation more than they love their own power or pride, then they can honorably debate without dishonorably dividing. They can discuss the merits of ideas but not descend into disrespect.  

    Rivals can actually serve a greater good. They can thrash out important ideas and help their opponents see things they were overlooking. Susan Cain, in her insightful book, "Quiet," says that if the aggressive extroverts at Enron had listened to the analytical introverts in the company, they would not have had a devastating financial meltdown. Diverse gifts can unite for good causes.

    However, in a church, government can't be by a committee. A committee is not God's favored form of leadership. No team can win without a coach in charge. Committees can't lead a church. That leads to chaos that hurts the members and thwarts the mission. God appoints divinely called headship to lead the church. But wisdom demands that whoever is the head must listen to trusted advisors. This is the biblical model and it works well. It is plurality but with headship.

    A company executive who ignores thoughtful opinions is headstrong. A husband who doesn't listen to his wife is a fool. A president who doesn't listen to his opponents is deceived by the arrogance of his heart.

Ron Wood ministers at Trinity Assembly of God in Meridian.  601-483-8189. Hear “The Father’s Power” radio show on 103.3 FM Sundays at 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. This Sunday Ron speaks on “The Jesus Tatoo.”