Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. But some of them said, “By Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebul. Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.
“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”
As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”
He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
Note: I am fully aware what you’re about to read isn’t the central point of this passage and if I were preaching it, the focus would be a bit elsewhere. But, this is a knee jerk devotional and this is the thought that hit as I read this passage this morning. You’re getting a raw look into my heart and mind each morning as I read and meditate on the Scriptures.
What is dividing the body of Christ in America?
Think about that for a moment.
The body of Christ is being divided over two trivial things likes politics and masks.
We wonder why Christianity is losing influence in the world, it’s partly because we allow ourselves to be divided by things that, ultimately, have little importance.
As followers of Jesus we are supposed to transcend the usual. Our lives are supposed to look different. But, when our allegiances get out of whack we begin to look like everyone else.
When our allegiances get out of whack our house becomes divided.
When our house becomes divided it falls.
This is what we’re seeing these days.
If we are followers of Jesus our primary allegiance is to him. No matter what else is going on in the world we should be united with our sisters and brothers in the faith because of Jesus. There’s a reason that the New Testament commands believers to remain united. Unity is something that we have. It’s part of being in the body of Christ. The challenge is to maintain that unity.
The challenge to unity in the body is as old Christianity.
Read the book of Acts, there are unity problems all over it. Galatians and Corinthians and James and Romans all deal with issues of unity in the body.
This is not a unique problem in the 21st Century American church.
This is a problem that emerges from bringing people who are different from one another together into one body of faith.
Jesus shows us the importance of the principle of unity in this passage as he responded to the questions raised by the people and religious leaders. His line at the end is the key, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
When we focus on what’s of most importance then we will see unity emerge. But, we have to move beyond hearing the word to obeying the word of God.
Friends, we must pursue unity and we do this by loving God and loving our neighbors and our enemies.
How will you seek to maintain or build unity this week?