Exodus 2:13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”
14 The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”
15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well.
“We wished you had all been hanged” said a group of black political prisoners (from the PAC, Pan African Congress) to Nelson Mandela and his fellow colleague-prisoners from the ANC in the jail at Robbin Island.
As I read this I couldn’t believe what I was reading these two groups both wanted to end black oppression by white minority rule and yet they hated each other and refused to work together towards liberation.
Yet as I thought about this I realised that sadly when people often should pull together they pull apart, rather than unite against a common enemy they fight amongst themselves.
I remember in the film “The Krays” the two brothers, Reggie and Ronnie, fight each other in the Boxing Ring, and their mum tells them “we are family, we don’t fight each other, we never fight each other, we fight them out there together, but we never fight each other!”
Sadly this is so evident within the Church and the Christian community, on both the macro -denominations and other groups acting like school children squabbling and bickering- and the micro, personal, level where the levels of spitefulness that is launched at one another for trying to do things differently to see Christ made known and lives transformed.
The Americans have a horrible phrase “friendly fire” where an ally kills a fellow ally, we as Christians know that there is no place within Christ’s Church for such behaviour, but sadly I know many wonderful and Godly Church leaders who have left ministry broken because of the behaviour of people within the Church.
Speaking personally some of my most painful wounds I received both as a vicar and now just as just a random guy trying to be a faithful follower have been from people I felt should have “got it” and understood and been on the same side.
Moses question: “why are you fighting one another” remains as valid today as it did many millennia ago!
The tragedy with fighting one another not only means we have lost our perspective and our thinking has become distorted, but we are are actually impairing the body of Christ, reducing our effectiveness, hampering mission and thwarting the advance of the Kingdom of God and grieving the Holy Spirit.
It sometimes is easier to think of when others have lost their perspective but not always as clear when we have ourselves. Bizarrely it is often easier to see the speck in someone else’s eye than notice the log within our own.
The writer of Hebrews urges his readers to “fix their eyes on Christ” avoiding the entanglement of sin and the distraction cul-de-sacs (slight paraphrase) and run the race set before us.
Many years ago I had to write a letter to an emerging leader and give some advice the advice I chose was “keep the main thing the main thing -the main thing is knowing, loving and following Jesus and seeking to see his Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven”. It’s a call to lift our eyes to ultimately who and what we as Christians are living for!
And I’ll close with another image, the opposite of the one I began with, it is from the film Shakespeare in Love where the rival theatre groups collaborate together -whereas earlier in the film they were fighting and trying to kill each other- in order to put on a play (Romeo and Juliet) in defiance of the master of the realm trying to shut the theatres down.