Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Great Separation - Martin Wiles

He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. Matthew 25:333 NLT

I’d been in many churches in my young life, but never one where men and women did what they did in this one.

My maternal grandparents attended a small United Methodist church nestled on a county highway that was once heavily traveled before interstates came along. When I stayed with them, I attended church.

The first time I walked in, I noticed something differed from any other church I’d ever attended: the men sat on the left and the women sat on the right. Of course, male children sat on the side with their moms and grandmothers, but all other males sat on the left. I thought the practice curious but never wondered why.

One day I googled, “Why did men and women once sit on separate sides of the church?” Various answers popped up. Some related to tradition. Others related to Bible verses that I felt didn’t justify the practice.
At some point, the men and women quit separating in that little church. And I’ve not seen this done anywhere since.

Tradition isn’t the only thing that has separated people throughout time. Prejudice, social class, race, nationality, and many other things have. Even Jesus spoke of a separation. But this one will be final and the most pressing of any separations anyone has endured. Those on His left, He’ll send into eternal flames. Those on the right, He’ll invite into His eternal Kingdom.

God doesn’t will this great separation. Peter tells us He doesn’t want any perish (1 Peter 3:9). But God is holy, and those who choose to remain in their sins rather than accept Jesus’ forgiveness must be separated from Him.

Nor does God want people to be separated in life. God’s love contains the power to remove things that separate us from each other. When I see others as God does, prejudice won’t barricade me from them. History’s pages are filled with the evils separations have brought. God wants us to live in peace with each other and to love our neighbors as we do ourselves.

God allows us to choose separation from Him and others—even the choice that determines our eternal destiny. Choice is what makes us human. But our choices have consequences.

Choose to love God and others so your life now and in eternity will be happy and peaceful.

Prayer: Father, draw us to love You and others above ourselves, so that in the great separation we’ll hear you say, “Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.”  

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