During our 3,000 mile-almost-three-week trip, this stop comes to mind first. It personifies the division that almost destroyed our nation. The drive through the Military Park is divided between Union (blue) and Confederate (red) markers which gives names to military units defending/attacking each spot. There are markers along the way about each company that people felt strongly enough to remember in a lasting, tangible way.
The monuments have some names – usually the commanding officer – but cannot list all the men who died there, much less served there. Of the seventeen thousand Union troops who are buried there, thirteen thousand are under markers labeled “Unknown.”
My Beloved Husband had a second-great-grandfather there. Erastus Fredrick (1844-1930) was there in the 68th Ohio Infantry, according to the 1906 Vicksburg Battlefield Commission. It is possible that two of my second great-uncles were there, too. My great- and great-great-grandfathers were in nearby battles, but Vicksburg is not part of their records.
Real names, real people that have descendants who look past the divisive past our nation survived and look to the future. Some people prefer not to.
The early church faced divisions. Letters were written to churches as reminders that we are to hold single purposes.
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6 KJV)
Here Paul is writing of spiritual gifts and their diversity within believers. But I believe it ties to:
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:1-6 KJV)
Please go ahead and read the verses following in Ephesians 4, but let me skip ahead to the goal Paul stated:
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (Ephesians 4:14-15 KJV)
Spend some defining our personal goals. Do they include speaking the truth in love, growing up into Christ is all (and I repeat that, ALL) things? If not, we can find ourselves on a different path:
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. (Ephesians 4:17-19 KJV)
It is a matter of choice – and we are faced with this choice time and time again. The Bible helps us continue on the right path, when it is not ignored. What’s your choice?