Theologically Speaking . . .
There is something about politics that creates disunity. One sees this clearly during this week, just days away from a general election. Issues draw lines between family members and friends. Parties reinforce distances already created. The result, far too frequently, is that these divisions lead nowhere and simply block the future. Washington knows these facts all too well.
God’s mission to the human race is where Theology meets Sociology. Others knew before us the same divisions we know today. Politics have created disunity, whether among Baptists today or among nation-states emerging at the dawn of the Reformation. Ancient Roman politics, seeking to bring unity, paradoxically ended in a fragmented society. Nations once whole tore apart through internal tensions. Clans, dynasties divided as they sought to deal with Rome.
Paul’s mission to the Gentiles was one that consistently sought to bring unity. The mission in Macedonia, for instance, begins with a startling dream. A messenger calls out, “Come over and help (boetheo = heal1) us!” So, we sometimes sense a call like that from Macedonia too, but we trundle off too soon to assist–too often ill-prepared, too often without clarity. Let us pause and sense better the nuance of this plea, “Come over and heal us!” What scourge fell upon the Macedonians; what therapy might be needed?
The results of the work by the apostolic team should inform one of the true nature of this ancient plea. While called to action by the Macedonian, the team began by going to a Roman city. While called to action by a Macedonian man, those receiving the ministry are immigrant women and a Roman jailer. Did the team miss its calling, responding instead to a diverse group, some of the lower class, some immigrants and one, a despised government official? How could such activity be an answer to the dream which clearly asked for therapeutic help?
Perhaps, just perhaps, the work with this diverse group is precisely the therapy occupied Macedonia needed. The apostolic team shows that in Christ unity can arise out of human diversity. Perhaps this ancient therapy is a real need in our time, too, whether in our world, in our nation or in our local lives. Perhaps God is greatly concerned about unity within the human race which received originally the gift of the image of God, so united, so holy. Perhaps this good news of unity is something we should share every day with metropolitan Washington . . .
By: Dr. Robert D. Cochran
1Friedrich Buchsel, “boetheo, boethos, boetheia” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament,I (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), p. 628.