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” Every Kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”  Matthew  12:25

I don’t know about you but of the four primary math operations; addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, division was the most difficult for me.  I don’t know if it was the physical way it was set up; you have that kind of one walled house thing with numbers outside, inside and on top?  I could never remember what was the divisor versus the dividend and quotient.  Now don’t get me wrong, in terms of math I’m not a “divide-hater”.  In fact I love it when my bills are divided in half.  Yet outside of math; as Jesus Christ pronounces; division can be a devastating process or place to be.

Let’s first define terms or concepts about what Jesus is referring to.  First, and I love this, Jesus does not just limit this concept to something large like a “kingdom”.  No, he breaks it down into ever smaller entities to include “cities” and even a “house”.  What he’s referring to here is not the concept of numbers or of size per se, but He’s referring to places where you and I have relationships.  Second, what does He mean by “divided against itself”?  To understand this point you could use concepts like divided: purpose, goal, mission or even actions.

You see Jesus was casting out demons.  Demons are the laborers of Satan.  Their actions are based around the destruction of people by tormenting them and keeping them away from accepting the Grace of God.  Those forlorn humans, in such a state of harassment by demons were physically, mentally and most importantly, spiritually separated from God.  Thus a demon had to be defeated, cast out, overpowered before a human could come into a full relationship and follow God.  The Pharisees, the religious leaders of the time definitely believed in both demons as well as Beelzebub, their leader.  The Pharisees knew that no normal human being had the power to overpower demons.  Because, in their mind Jesus could not be the Christ, the Savior, the True Son of God, then the only other option must be that Jesus was overpowering demons by the being the most powerful; prince of demons.

Jesus, knowing what they are thinking, speaks an overwhelmingly powerful truth that resonates to us this very day; a house divided will not stand.  Why, in this case would that be?  Again remember the reason for the existence of demons plus their leader Beelzebub.  To torment humans and keep them from entering into a relationship with God.  As shown time and time again, a person freed from the torment of demons often turned to a relationship with God.  Thus if Beelzebub was casting out demons, just to bring glory to himself, the end result was human beings that were entering into a saving relationship with God which was exactly opposite of his reason for being; hence, the divide.  Jesus, of course quite correctly and accurately points out, over time Beelzebub’s power would come to an end because he would eventually free all to enter into relationship with God.  Beelzebub’s kingdom would come into desolation.

Let’s approach it from one other direction, this  time looking at the physical properties of a house.  A house is built on principles that will allow it to withstand the forces that can cause its destruction, like gravity, wind, rain, etc.  One aspect of these principles is the load bearing member or wall.  There are certain parts of the house specifically designed to hold up under the pressure of different forces to allow the house to stand.  Should you remove, break or divide that load bearing member it no longer has the strength to withstand the pressures arrayed against it and it collapses along with much of the rest of the house.

I’m hoping you’re seeing where I’m going with this.  I’m not one who desires to use extensive hyperbole and I do not have the historical research to state something like we live in the most divided time in history.  Yet I don’t think one could argue that we live in an extremely divisive time.  We divide ourselves along the lines of our ethnicity, gender, age, political beliefs, physical characteristics (weight, beauty), where we live, what team we follow, what we own, what religion and what sect within a religion we follow and I could continue to list our divisions for paragraphs to follow but I believe I have made my point.

I want to make something else abundantly clear; difference does not equate to division.  Just because someone is different doesn’t automatically require that they be divided from us.  No, division comes when those differences preclude us from seeing or acting together towards a common goal.  Division happens when the way that I am different must win over how you are different, which must in turn lose.  It is when differences become division that destruction will follow.

Jesus knew this for what was His goal; to bring about His own Glory, to see His own name worshiped?  No Jesus Christ had one earthly mission; glorify the Father by carrying out the Father’s plan.  Thus you see Dear Brothers and Sisters, Jesus Christ teaches us how to stay together.  We must seek after and find the overarching goal that is good for the entire house (family), city or kingdom.  We must submit ourselves to that goal and I emphasize the sub aspect in that any or all of our goals must be under and aligned with the overarching goal so that what we do brings strength to the structure versus destruction.

Would we really have such a contentious political environment if the goal was the success of all who are within our country and not just those with whom we feel a commonality with?  And perhaps greater yet; that our country’s success would not come at the cost of others in the world but lift them up as well?  If we embraced that a failure to part of our family, city, kingdom, our holy catholic, apostolic church (that is all churches proclaiming Jesus Christ the One True Son of God, our Savior) is a failure to us all; what would our world look like?

Where do we find that overarching goal?  In the Word of God; Jesus tells us: Love the Father, Love each other.  Finally, also if we only look to ourselves we will not find the strength to live into and align our goals with the Will of God.  We must pray for that strength. We must rely on the strength of Jesus Christ, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit by the Will of our Almighty Father to provide us with the strength we need.  It is together, first in relationship with our Father, then together, relationship with each other, that we heal the divisions amongst us and keep destruction at bay.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, through nature you have taught us the power to ward of destruction when things come together in unison.  You’ve also shown us the destruction that comes to those who try to go alone or in fragmented groups.  So it is that You want us to live with each other.  Forgive us Dear Father, when we divide ourselves among lines of earthly, worldly judgements that leave us prey to evil and the prince of darkness.  Pour out Your Spirit upon us and strengthen us that we would see the blessings and prosperity that come from submitting our will to Yours.  Through Your Divine Power, bring Your Church together into one entity that will testify to the world of the power of togetherness.  As You are Three in One; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, help us to live as one in the relationships You have blessed us with.  That in our triumph together we will live lives of praise to Your most Holy Name.  In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

“And Elijah came near to all the people and said: ‘How long will you falter between two opinions; If the Lord is God, follow Him, but if Baal, follow him.”  1 Kings 18:21

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One….”  Mark 12:29

Quite a debate is waging around the world about the value or weakness of compromise.  In my vocation, I teach organizational behavior as well as appropriate organizational change and compromise comes up quite often as a topic.

Hear’s what I find.  In matters dealing with purely human ideas and concepts; difference of opinions and disagreements; compromise is vital.  For compromise at its very heart has several precepts.  First, that in any idea that is being considered; there is more than one perspective; one way of looking at an issue and all perspectives are in some way not completely accurate.  Because all human perspectives have an element of inaccuracy to them; the more perspectives you have, the more likely you are to have the most complete picture on which to take the most accurate, appropriate action.  So we are hearing and I often speak on the praises of compromise………dealing with human, earthly things. But what about spiritual things?  What about God?

The prophet Elijah is sent to King Ahab of Israel.  King Ahab had married a foreign woman; Jezebel who only worshiped the god of the Canaanites, Baal.  It was not the God of Israel was banned from being worshiped, it was that He was worshiped along with other gods.  The people of Israel had chosen the human notion of multiple perspectives, in this case concerning gods, and had decided compromise was acceptable.

Elijah was a prophet of God Almighty and God had spoken to him.  So Elijah has had all the people of Israel come together and he puts out there very plainly:  compromise is not an option.  You as a people falter in your belief that you can have it both ways.  There is no possibility that the God of Israel and Baal can be coworshiped, can co exist.  You must choose; Elijah tells them.

Here again to me is where the mercy of Our Heavenly Father is so amazing.  For He could have simply not even allowed for a decision to be made.  He could have simply destroyed every single person who ever bent a knee or burned any incense to the false god Baal.  Instead, God reveals Himself to the people through a test.

Two altars are built for two sacrifices.  There are over 400 Baal priests and prophets there to pray and exhort the god Baal to show himself.  The test is to set up the sacrifices and then call upon each God to send fire down to accept the sacrifice of His respective prophet(s).  The Baal priests go first and for almost an entire day, the pray, the plead, they ritually cut themselves to show their devotion to Baal; yet there is no response.  Finally at the end of the day, when it is time for the evening sacrifice; the one, lone prophet of God; Elijah has his turn.  Elijah commands that the altar be drenched three times with water so that no only is the altar, the wood on the altar, the bull for the sacrifice drenched but there is a deep trench around the altar filled with water.  The possibility of a fire consuming the sacrifice seems dubious to say the least.  Yet Elijah calls upon God Almighty and scarcely have the words left his mouth when a fire rains down, so hot, so intense that it not only consumes the sacrifice but completely drys up the water.  Seeing is believing.  The Israelites proclaim God as the one true God.

Here’s the thing Dear Sisters and Brothers; today, few are out there worshiping gods named Baal, Molech or Zeus.  But that does not mean that we are not faltering.  It does not mean that we have set up new gods for ourselves that we fall down and worship, sacrifice for and to.  These gods are named things like, money, power, fame, a perfect body, sex for the sake of sex and yes even human based church.  How do we know they are gods?  We know that is the case when we put our faith in any or all of these to be path to, the basis for our salvation.

It’s as if we’re saying God, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, you may exist; but you exist up there or out there and I live right down here.  And down here these are the things that I need to get by.  So I’ll compromise.  For day to day, down here type stuff, I’ll pay homage to the gods of my choosing and making.  When I get around to thinking about my soul on a certain day of the week or certain holidays, then it’s all about You, God.  We compromise.

The term jealous is used for God but not in the way that we would think of it down here.  You see God knows; He, in the person of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit are it.  They are the Only True God.  They are the only way to eternal salvation.  They also know that we are doomed if we compromise and follow our own gods.  You and I might think we see a God as a God ready to judge us, to turn us out, to damn us for all time.  That is what the prince of this world would want you and I to believe.

Judge us? No, instead Our God, the One True God; died for us in the person of His Son Jesus Christ.  He took our compromises, our sins upon Himself, who never once compromised, so that we might be saved.  Dear Sisters and Brothers, let that be the only perspective that we will decide to follow.  By the Grace of God Almighty, may we never compromise on that.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we humbly admit that we are not perfect and that often we need, sometimes You even give us guidance through multiple human opinions.  Yet we also confess, that we choose our own opinions over You Most Merciful Father.  That we compromise and chase after gods of our own making who have no power whatsoever and forsake You.  Have Pity on us Dear Father and pour out Your Spirit upon us that we would cease in our striving after false gods and only follow You Dear Father.  For we proclaim that there is only One True Father, Son and Holy Spirit and there is no salvation without You.  We pray this in the most precious Name of Jesus Christ Our Lord.  Amen

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