And He knew their thoughts, and said unto them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand." Matthew 12:25
On June 16, 1858, in Springfield, Illinois, Lincoln gave his "house divided" speech.
The idea wasn't his.
Centuries before, Jesus had told His critics that a divided kingdom would soon be desolate, and a house divided would not stand for very long.
Today, there is proof both were right. Near Phnom Penh, Cambodia, a husband and wife recently ended their 18-year marriage.
Part of the divorce settlement called for their wooden house -- the home of their dreams -- to be sawn in half. And although the city fathers tried to talk the couple out of the divorce, that is what happened. The groom brought his relatives and they cut the place apart, right down the middle.
Photographs show one half of the house in a kind-of-still-standing position. The other half was carted away to the home of the groom's parents.
The anger and animosity of husband and wife -- the length to which their arguments took them -- has resulted in pictures, and laughs, from around the world.
Maybe that's why when Jesus prayed for His disciples and for His church, He prayed that we all would be one (John 17:21 ff). He knew that the devil is relentless in his attacks and single minded in his desire to destroy the salvation that Jesus won at such a great cost.
He knew the world would laugh at divided churches that get caught up in silly squabbles.
He knew that it is difficult for pastors and parishes to fight the good fight of faith if they consider their biggest enemies to be each other.
We would do better to listen to Paul who encouraged Timothy, and us, to "...pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith" (1 Timothy 6:11b - 12a).
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, there are enemies out there who need to be challenged and confronted. Send Your Holy Spirit, so that united by our Savior and the truth of Scripture, we may fight as a fellowship of redeemed brothers and sisters. In the Savior's Name, I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries