Bible Reading Blog — February 27, 2016

27 Feb

Today’s Readings — Judges 18-22 & Mark 10:32-34

In the book of 1 Kings we see the story of the dividing of the kingdom of Israel into northern and southern kingdoms after the death of Solomon. One of the things a careful reading of the books of law as well as Joshua and Judges shows us is that this conflict which ended with division was a long time in developing. There are hints in Deuteronomy, Joshua and Judges of disunity between the tribes of Israel. Whether it is concern over the tribes which settled east of the Jordan or fear of those same tribes setting up an altar to God or even the horrible war with the tribe of Benjamin at the close of the book of Judges, conflict among the tribes of Israel is never far beneath the surface. So it is no surprise when we find the kingdom divide. To be sure, it is tragic. But it is not unexpected.

I find a parallel here to our own interpersonal conflicts. Most of the time major ruptures between people don’t materialize from nothing. There is normally some long term animosity, some nurtured grievance, some latent hostility. Then, when opportunity arises or some negative event takes place, the conflict explodes. Relationships are broken, friends are gathered, enemies are named and dismissed. When you think about people who rub you the wrong way, you are probably thinking about people with whom you might have a later conflict.

What is the answer? The answer is found in Jesus’ teaching to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, to turn the other cheek. The answer is found in Jesus’ life of compassion, where the outcast was not ultimately rejected and the only ones Jesus opposed were the ones who drew such sharp distinctions between themselves and all those they deemed beneath them. As long as we regard others with disdain, conflict is right around the corner. Jesus shows us a better way.

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