Jesus declared that a house divided against itself cannot stand. It was his clear argument that the foolish notion that the religious leaders were promoting that he was casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub or Satan, was totally ridiculous. If Satan were really involved in casting his own demons out of people it wouldn’t take long for his whole kingdom to fall apart. This principle, that Jesus saw as so basic that anyone should be able to see it, is one that today seems beyond the grasp of most folks.
Think about the horrendous division that has become the norm in this country. It isn’t a civil disagreement over a few things while both groups hold to the vital unity as a nation. That kind of division could be healthy. It recognizes the greatness of the nation and the principles on which it is founded, but disagrees over some actions or applications of the different ideas of how to serve the country. There have been many times when, as a country, it was that sort of division that was normal. Everyone in the different political parties recognized the other party as being made up of people who, like them, loved the country and wanted what was best for the people. The disagreements had to do with what was the best way to accomplish the goals both shared for the nation. Largely, that type of fundamental unity with divisions over method is forgotten and even despised in our day. We have reached the time that we seem not to be able to disagree with a person in one area of life without attacking them in every way. We can’t seem to see that one might see a thing differently from us and still be a good person, with great love for the country the same as ours. The constant attacks on the character of those who differ from us has led to a total inability for those who differ in some areas to work together even in the areas where they are in total agreement. It should be clear to everyone that if this mindset continues for long this nation will not and cannot stand. I wonder how long after the fall of the nation it will be until people realize that their party spirit of attacking with hatred everyone who disagreed with them, destroyed the very nation they said they loved.
But, let me take that principle and apply it even closer to home. It is certainly true that a nation divided against itself cannot stand. But it is even more true that a church divided against itself cannot stand. Most churches aren’t made up of many thousands of people. Most aren’t even made up of many hundreds of people. The vast majority of churches in the world have less than 100 people in them. But, whether you are talking about a single local church or a particular kind of church made up of hundreds or thousands of congregations or even thinking of the church in the sense of all people who believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God and strive to follow him, the principle still stands, a church divided against itself cannot stand. Here is what is so amazing. Followers of Christ who all believe deeply in God, Jesus as God’s Son and in the Holy Spirit of God and who believe that the Bible is God’s word that guides us on how to live for him, too often turn to deny the faith of others who have those same beliefs because they disagree over some point of application, often in areas where the Bible actually had nothing to say. Even in congregations it is so easy to disagree with someone over something that is insignificant and get into a fuss over it that leads to the destruction of the whole church. Far too often that destruction is led by a preacher who just couldn’t face the idea that one could disagree with them over something and still be right with God. Can you even imagine what it will be like for one to stand before the Lord in judgment after being part of the destruction of a congregation of his people, when he gave his life to purchase the church? Not every disagreement is worth dividing over! We desperately need to learn to distinguish between matters that are basic, fundamental and necessary as compared with matters that are expedient, alright and a matter of liberty.
Finally, think of one other application that is even closer to home. The concept of a house divided against itself not being able to stand applies to our homes, our families. It is common for any two or more people in any house to not see everything the same way. But when our attitude becomes, “My way or the highway” our home is in desperate trouble. It breaks my heart and I am sure it breaks the heart of God to see couples who declared their love for each other, sometimes only a few months earlier, ready to attack and fight each other over some silly disagreement, knowing completely that such an attack will lead to the ruin of their home and family. It is easy to decry divorce and the number of children growing up in single parent homes or with grandparents. But it will not change until we grasp the lesson that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Don’t argue and fuss over things that aren’t that important anyway. Give the same amount of space for the other people in the home to believe what they believe as we want for ourselves.
In Philippians 2:1-5 Paul wrote, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is your in Christ Jesus.” This passage needs to apply to our lives in all the different areas of our life. If we have any part of God or His Spirit in us it should bring a longing for unity, love and accord. That longing should lead us to act out of humility instead of ambition and count others more significant than ourselves. It should lead us to care about the other person’s needs and interests instead of just thinking of our own. It should lead to our having the mind, heart and attitude of Jesus who emptied himself to become one of us and to die for us to be saved. What an amazing sacrifice! What an amazing blessing! Don’t waste it!