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Division has one ending: divided

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What's that tell you?

President Lincoln is famous for proclaiming, "United we stand - Divided we fall", but it certainly is not original with Lincoln. Aesop, a Greek storyteller who lived during the 6th century B.C. wrote a fable, "The Four Oxen and the Lion". In it, the last line of the fable reads, "united we stand, divided we fall". Jesus Christ said the same thing: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand" Matthew 12:25. The gospel of Mark states it yet another way, "And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand" Mark 3:25.

Aesop's story goes like this: "A lion used to prowl about a field in which four oxen used to dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near they turned their tails to warn another, so that whichever way he approached them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in the separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four. United we stand. Divided we fall." (The Four Oxen and the Lion; Fables of Aesop.com).

The statement's meaning is undisputable. Everyone knows it is truth so why is it that there is still so much division? Is it not plain, "division will end in a fall? In destruction," just like Jesus said.

When Jesus made this statement, He had just healed a man possessed by the devil and the people were amazed by His power to heal and restore. In the context of the story, He was speaking directly to the Pharisees who had made the statement that He was only able to cast out devils "by Beelzebub (Satan) the prince of the devils". Jesus took this opportunity to explain that he could not possibly be casting out devils by the power of the devil because that is "a house divided against itself, which cannot possibly stand".

That truth still applies today and is applicable to the world we find ourselves living in. A house divided cannot stand. Does anyone agree on much of anything anymore?

Jesus goes on to explain, both in Matthew and in Mark, that any kingdom divided against itself will be destroyed, and any house divided against itself cannot stand. To put that on a level we relate to just think about a marriage; a school system; a country; a civic organization or a church. Most of us have been in a situation that proves a house divided against itself will be destroyed. It's the age-old trick: divide and conquer. A house, or a kingdom, that fights against itself cannot prosper nor will it have the strength to overcome the struggles and battles it goes through.

A house divided is imposing self-inflicting wounds. The Pharisees were attacking their own house (Jesus). Both, Jesus and the Pharisees, were warriors in a battle for good and evil, but because Jesus didn't follow the rules the Pharisees thought needed to be followed, they condemned him.

As Christians, we must not be divided. But that leads us to ask who is right? There has to be only one "truth".

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life - no man comes to the Father but by me". Clearly, truth must have a marker; a standard to attain to. Can we honestly believe there are dozens of markers and hitting any one of them is okay? Jesus didn't think so. He said He is the Truth.

Honestly, I believe that is the root of our shaking world. Multitudes of young people are taught that their truth is what is truth to them. And, if Christians can't agree on what "truth is", then how can we expect the world to understand? If we stand united on what the Bible says, and if we are not divided in our beliefs as the body of Christ, we will be much stronger in a world that is wallowing in anger and misunderstanding toward each other.

I believe it is time for Christians to re-examine what is dividing us. Are we following something that is different from what God says is truth? If we want to stand against the storms of life that are unsettled all around us, we must get established on the Rock: on Jesus. God promised if we would draw near to Him, He would draw near to us (James 4:8). When the world is shaking and there is very little stability, there is one foundation that cannot be shaken and that's the Kingdom of God.

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