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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.



I walk the line.

I say this to honor the town: Bristol, Tennessee – the birthplace of country music.

But I am literally walking a line this morning as the sun arises. State Street, under my feet, is the dividing line between Tennessee and Virginia.  On my right is TN.  On my left, VA.

There’s no visible difference between the two rows of buildings. I wonder how much the topic arises in conversations here. At the open-air concert last night on the Virginia side, there wasn’t a designated area for Tennessee lawn chairs. (Though, that sounds like a perfect name for bluegrass group.)

So, as I walk, I’m surprised when I see a second post office. It dawns on me that each side has a unique zip code. And government processes, along with state laws, might be quite dissimilar.  It’s one town with two underlying systems.

I can’t help but ask myself: What fundamentally divides people? Sure, there are huge, hot-button issues splitting the nation right now. I don’t need to name them; I’m sure you can easily come up with a half dozen. Sometimes, it feels like our country (and the church) is pulling apart at the seams – with a gaping fissure running down the middle of each issue’s State Street.

But is there a more basic partition?  This verse comes to mind:

And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.  (2 Cor. 5:15)

It’s about one’s destination. One’s reason to live. Or, like the post office reminder, one’s governing authority. Jesus didn’t die to add religion to my life. He died to give me a new Person to live for.  Everything in my life is to be aligned to his purpose and kingdom.  I’m no longer the center of my universe.

That’s the real dividing line:  Who are you living for?  That supersedes political parties.  And denominations.  And news sources.  And approaches to cultural change.

I’m struck by the one open window in this alley. It pictures for me that one, small opportunity for a new idea to enter a closed heart and mind.  As everyone becomes more entrenched in their opinions, I pray that the Holy Spirit will pry open windows in the hearts of people.

Starting with me.  Am I so locked up in my House of Opinion that I dismiss my spiritual siblings with whom I disagree?

Paul follows the verse above with a pointed application: “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.”  (2 Cor. 5:16) This reminds me of all the ways I’m tempted to size up someone based on externals and peripheral issues.

And fail to see to the heart of the matter: loyalty to the eternal King.

Father, forgive our divisive spirits. Forgive us for all the ways we divide your church and dismiss those for whom you died. Show us anew how to live for you.

Reader: What’s the most interesting physical dividing line you’ve come across?

Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And if you liked this, please use the buttons above to share it.

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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