Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Division, illustration by Tobias Mayer, 2023

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
Romans 16:17

It would seem the church was already showing signs of splintering as early as 50 AD. By the time of the Nicene council in 325 AD the divisions were so great that the Roman state was able to easily take control of the church. From its roots as a resistance movement against oppressive government the church founded in Jesus' name is co-opted by that same government. Not only did the church fail to overcome the state, but the complete opposite occurred: the state overcame the church, absorbed it completely. Paul saw the early signs of this division, and was concerned enough to add a warning to his letter to the Romans.

Not everyone who preaches the gospel understands the gospel. The same can be said of most revolutions, where the so called revolutionary leaders aspire only to be the new leaders of the same system of government. Oppression by any other name is still oppression. Unless we pause to really consider our desired outcome, and go way beyond the edges of our comfort zone, where few dare to tread, we are caught up in old thinking, and can only aspire to what we already know.1 Likewise today in the corporate world not everyone who jumps on the organisational band wagons of Lean, Agile, Sociocracy, the Quaker Business method, Theory U or any of the other frameworks and models for change understand them well enough to actually implement real change. They pay them lip service while continuing to support and propagate the status quo.

Ruling governments (and executive management groups) thrive on division. While the people (or employees) are fighting and arguing with one another they are not paying attention to high-level government (or executive) decisions, and before we know it we are under a system of governance no one actually agreed to. Paul saw this coming. He warned his fellow Christians, but few listened.

1 Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire, 1970