Jesus states a binary situation at the conclusion of our Gospel passage today. “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” I am usually skeptical of binary thinking. With an “us” versus “them” dichotomy, we end up splitting the world into divisions that prevent mutual understanding. Do not get me wrong me, binary thinking is good in some cases, like thinking there are objective moral goods and evils. A shadow of binary thinking is that it prevents discernment and adaptation from happening for a particular person or case.
Jesus’ statement induces a conscious or unconscious worry in Christians. Spiritual directors and confessors hear it when people come to them explaining how they are worried to get on God’s bad side. The feeling is that a person is either for God by living the perfect moral life or against God through committing sins. The foretaste of the eternal punishment for sin is perpetual misery in this life.
If we all are honest with ourselves, there is some part in each one of us that is against God and some part that is for God. As human beings, we constantly fall into instances where we have a divided will—we simultaneously will what we know is good for us and not good for us. God’s grace in our hearts heals our will and unifies it. We pray for our will to be integrated with God’s dream for us, a parent’s wish for the fullness of life for her child.
The binary that Jesus offers us exhorts us to whole-heartedness. The scene reminds me of the scenes in movies when an army captain tries to rouse courage in the troops before the final battle. The battle ground for us is the places within our hearts that want to fight God and not surrender to grace. If we want to see someone who is against Jesus, we need to look no farther than a mirror at ourselves. If we want to see someone who is for Jesus, look in the mirror again. Let us make our prayer this day to ask God to help us surrender those places of our heart that want to resist God.
How have I surrendered to God’s grace this Lent? Where do I feel my will is divided.