No army divided against itself can conquer. No sports team that is splintered by rivalry can win. No country fractured by political ideologies can prosper. No family that concentrates on its differences can survive. Even Jesus, when accused of doing things through Beelzebub, explained:
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. (Mark 3:24-25)
Division is the death sentence of any team, group or family. It also nullifies the effectiveness of any church or ministry that is trying to promote Jesus Christ to the world.
Division is always the fruit of sin, when we put ourselves ahead of others. It is the moment when we start defending our own interests, thoughts, opinions and ideas. It comes by way of jealousy and envy. It happens when people start believing a leader is more important than the mission, when the growth of a church becomes more important than the growth of the Kingdom. It is when we set aside the fruit of the Spirit and we allow thorns and thistles to grow in its place. Such division is hard to stop once it starts because the need to be proven right is a powerful sin.
This is not the desire of our Lord. He made it clear as he prayed for us before the cross. His desire was for a "oneness" to exist between us and God and with each other. There is no disputing his words:
I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:20-21)
The world would see the truth in the unity of his followers, in the "oneness" we have with our God and with each other. We are meant to be one with God so that the world may believe that the Father sent the Son. There is a lot of disbelief in the world. Could it because we have turned the Church into a three ringed circus run by clowns?
Read this next bit slowly and repeatedly:
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:22-23)
How do you think we are doing with this? Poorly? I would agree because we are not a people of the Spirit. There is still too much of us in us. Jesus told us that the two things that should govern our lives are, to love God and to love others. Instead, our love or hatred of ourself governs most of our actions. We are self-absorbed, self-possessed, and eager to please only ourselves.
I am being pretty hard aren't I? I don't think it's undeserved. Look at your day and you tell me by your actions what you are showing is the most important thing in your life. Be honest. Hey, I don't know you so you have to judge for yourself, but one thing I do know is the Church is splintered into a million different splinters and we are the Church. We are proving to be ineffective in our mission. There are a few bright spots but for the most part they are on their own, having nothing to do with anyone else, happily doing their own thing.
Situations like this don't change overnight because they have to change in each of us first. Our prayer for unity of the Body should start by allowing our own hearts to be changed. Our prayer should be "change me", not "change them". If every believer would allow their hearts to be changed, to allow the Spirit to take possession, to put Jesus and others ahead of their own needs, we would witness that powerful unity take hold from the grass roots up. Don't put up with leaders preaching against other believers and other churches. Don't entertain believers tearing down believers. If one person starts taking a stand then others will be reminded that it is wrong. Jesus intended the Church to be a powerful thing and she will be again once we grasp the importance of our unity with God and with each other.
May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.