Dr. Kenneth Samuel: Are You With Me?

Luke 11:23

"Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters."

Reflection by Kenneth L. Samuel   

We've heard a lot about the rigid ideologies that polarize people and impede government operations.  Ideological differences are at the heart of so much dissent and dysfunction in our communities.  And yet, as divisive as ideologies can be, what kind of world would we live in if no one was driven by any clear set of principles or values?  What would a world of neutrality look like?  Would anything ever change, or would we perpetually accommodate ourselves to the realities of a stagnant status quo?

Maybe our problem is not ideology itself, but the kind of ideology with which we choose to be aligned.  Some ideologies cause conflict because they seek to exclude; other ideologies cause conflict because they seek to include.  According to the gospel, Christ came not to bring peace (the absence of tension), but a sword (the presence of principled conflict).  As a result, he made lots of enemies.  And for all who tried to remain above the fray by wishing him well from the sidelines while refusing to take up his fight, Christ was quite clear: "If you're not working with me, you are working against me.  If you're not my co-combatant, you are my declared enemy."  There is no nice place for neutrality in the battle for bodies, minds and souls.

In my own life, I've found that persons who admire just causes but refuse to commit to just causes are really the enemies of just causes.  The comedian and avowed atheist Bill Maher said: "Jesus doesn't need any more fans.  Jesus needs more followers."  I think I'd rather have the commitment of an atheist to that idea than the applause of some religious moderates who are essentially committed to nothing except the maintenance of order. 

The English philosopher, Edmund Burke said: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."  What victories are we ceding to darkness today by our reluctance and/or refusal to engage?


Dear God, please give us the strength and courage to fight the enemies of love and liberty.  And help us to remember that in every battle, you are with us.  Amen.

Taken with permission from the UCC's Stillspeaking Devotional.