Jesus was casting out a demon that was mute; when the demon had gone out, the one who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were amazed. But some of them said, ‘He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.’ Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven. But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? – for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul. Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe. But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armour in which he trusted and divides his plunder. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.’
Jesus said: Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert.
As long as I can remember we have lived in a state of conflict. I am not thinking of the war-like attitudes of politicians and generals. I am thinking of the conflict that exists between those who profess a faith in Jesus Christ. As Christians we are called to live in unity, peace and love. Sadly, and for so long, that seems not to have been the case. As the centuries have passed the Church of Christ has splintered into denominations, each with their own take on Christ’s life and teaching. Then, within those denominations, splinter groups have broken away, creating even further division. It is not uncommon for people to introduce themselves as being catholic or evangelical, conservative or liberal, traditional or modern and free. This internecine conflict has weakened the Church of Christ to the point of making it a desert in many places … just as described in Jesus’ words to us today.
Jesus gave us a new perspective on our relationship with his Heavenly Father. Jesus came to open our eyes, our hearts and our minds to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Jesus came to make it known that we are all, every single one of us, loved by God. Jesus came to make it clear that we should be following no one else if we wish to know the joy of his salvation. But … we are weak and fallible human beings. We think we know better. As the saying goes: ‘we know what we like, and we like what we know’. We are so committed to having things our own way, that we perpetuate and escalate the conflicts that have caused so much misery in the name of religion.
We are called to live in unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are called to live in peace with those same brothers and sisters in Christ. We are called to love our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter who or what they may be. This teaching is simple. This teaching is the teaching that will cause the Church to be built on rock and not sand, to be a fertile plain and not a dry and unforgiving desert.
There is no room for those who call themselves Christian to be influenced and swayed by their own likes and dislikes in matters of faith. We are called to worship, praise, honour and obey our God in heaven. And, as we worship, praise, honour and obey God, we are also called to come together in unity, peace and love.
Let us pray that we might find the resolve to live as faithful disciples and apostles of Christ. Let us learn to accept others as we are accepted by God. Let us pray we might set aside our petty differences and focus on our true mission … to share the Good News of Christ with all … even if they don’t go to our church!!