The deepest divisions among the people of God in our nation have nothing to do with denominations. They have nothing to do with political loyalties. No - the deepest divisions cut through the life of individuals.
Take the time to listen to Christians talk. I do this all the time. Let me tell you what I hear. I hear a mind vs heart division. People love to go on and on about 'head knowledge' and 'heart knowledge', seeing them as two different things. I hear a theory vs practice division. A Placemakers' van caught my eye the other day. 'Know How, Can Do' was splashed across the side. That sounds so practical. I suspect a van with 'Know What, Understand Why' wouldn't market a company very well. Theory sounds so boring. I hear a public vs private division. On a Sunday or being in worship brings out a certain conversation and a certain behaviour in people, while living on a Monday and being at work ... well, it can all sound and look so different.
Divided talk like this is not new. For example, centuries ago Philosopher Plato talked about a body vs soul division, the material was separated from the spiritual. And what is it that happens next with this split? Well - one bit becomes a good bit and the other bit becomes a bad bit. On one side is where you find God living - in Plato's case the soul and the spiritual - and on the other side you find God evacuating - in this case the body and the material. Have you ever wondered why Christians can be so hamstrung when it comes to confronting pornography or leading the response to an ecological crisis? There are experts who trace it all the way back to Plato. We are sailing in his bad air. What else can you expect to happen when you allow the body and the material to be seen as a bad bit from which God has evacuated?
And when we come back to these divisions I hear around the place - the mind:heart, the theory:practice, the public:private - nothing much has changed. There tends to be a good bit and a bad bit. And a bit that God inhabits and a bit that God evacuates. Our faith and our churches thrive in the private:practical:heart world. Our faith and our churches get a bit lost in the mind:theory:public world - in fact, it is often argued that this is where faith shrivels and dies so stay away! [cf Lesslie Newbigin: "the church has secured a continuing place, at the cost of surrendering the crucial field."]
Now there is one problem with this. The Bible knows nothing of this nonsense. And that means that God ain't too chuffed with it either.
Mind vs heart? When Jesus drew alongside two heavy-hearted disciples on the road to Emmaus he ministered to their minds, to their understanding of Scripture, and in a matter of minutes despairing hearts became burning hearts. Dividing head knowledge from heart knowledge is not the way forward.
Theory vs practice? When Paul sat down to write Ephesians he did not start with chapter 4. When he sat down to write Romans he did not start with chapter 12. Last time I looked he establishes the theory first. His van had 'Know What, Understand Why' splashed across the bonnet and 'Know How, Can Do' splashed across the boot.
Public vs Private? When a Joseph or a Daniel or an Esther left home on a Monday morning to go to work they did not park their impeccable private worlds with their chariots. They went in and lived them in full view of Pharoah and Xerxes and Nebuchadnezzar and did so with integrity and did so with influence. They didn't ask themselves "gee, how can I be relevant?". They just refused to divide up their lives and therein lay their relevance.
I'd go one step further with all of this ... I would argue with all my being and for as long as God gives me breath that the central reason for the church's ineffectiveness as it participates in the mission of God in this land lies with deep divisions like these ones. We are struggling not because of too much mind, too much theory, too much public - but too little of the finest variety.