- Rick LoPresti
A house divided
Updated: Oct 21, 2022
In 1858, Abraham Lincoln was running for the U.S. Senate in Illinois. On June 16, he gave one his most famous speeches. It is now called the "house divided" speech. Here is the most important part of it. "A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South." Lincoln was not only concerned about the issue of slavery. He was concerned about the division the issue was causing. There will always be issues people disagree about, especially when it comes to politics and religion. The question is not will there be disagreements. It is how we will handle them. Will we be respectful and constructive, or will we be insulting and divisive? There is nothing wrong with having strong beliefs and even opinions. In fact, there is something wrong with not having them. Remember the famous quote, "If you don't believe in something, you'll fall for anything." When we focus more on what divides us than on what unites us, we are in serious trouble. The key is remembering the larger picture. There is more at stake than a few issues. No organization can long survive division, whether it is a family, a business, a nation, or a church.
Some people don't realize that Lincoln was quoting from the Lord Jesus Christ when he said, "a house divided against itself cannot stand. The Lord's enemies had accused Him of casting out demons by the devil. Jesus responded, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand (Mt 12:22-30)." Even in the church there will be disagreements and issues because it is made up of real people. That is why Jesus gave us a model of dealing with these things in Matthew 18. The overarching principle is putting the kingdom of God over our personal issues and differences.
After the worldwide flood, God told the people to spread out and replenish the earth. Instead they gathered in the plain of Shinar and built a city based on their own agenda instead of God's (Gen 11). The began to build a tower that would reach to the sky. They were apparently trying to make it waterproof by burning the bricks and using slime for mortar.God had promised He would never flood the whole world again, but when we do not follow the word of God, we cannot have faith in Him. We think we have to make our own way, so that it what they were doing. God saw they were united and that since they were united nothing was going to stop them. He divided their languages, and they left off their project. They spread out and assumedly gathered according to their languages and started the various nations. They ended up doing what God said anyway - spreading out and repopulation the earth. The principle here is that unity is so powerful that even when used for evil even God recognizes its potential.
The last thing the Lord Jesus did before heading to the garden of Gethsemane to face His arrest and death was pray a prayer for the unity of the church (Jn 17). While Christians cannot literally be one in the exact same way that the Father and the Son are one, Jesus used that oneness as the standard the church is to measure itself by. Everything Jesus said and did was for the purpose of the kingdom. If Christians can put the kingdom of God first, the internal issues it deals with would be much fewer, and its true purpose would be powerfully advanced (Mt 6:33). We need a revival of righteousness and truth. We need revival of the fear of God. We need revival of unity. We need it nationally and spiritually.