Jesus and Division
"Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, nay, but rather division. For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law." Who made such a statement, was it Karl Marx, Adolf Hitler, or some infamous anarchist seeking to overthrow the government? Beloved, Jesus Christ, the Prince of peace is the author! (Lk. 12: 51-53, Isa. 9: 6.)
Jesus promoted unity and fervently prayed to his Father "that they all may be one " (Jn. 17: 21, see "Jesus and Unity" in archives). Jesus gave man a belief system which has unity characteristic of its every fiber and feature (see Eph. 4: 1-6). Jesus' unity is automatic in the sense that two or more who believe and accept the one faith and walk in the light are united (Eph. 4: 5, I Jn. 1: 6-8). However, to truly understand Jesus' unity we must understand Jesus and division.
The enunciation "I am come to give division" is considered a marshal. A marshal is paradoxical to common thinking and is meant to arrest the attention of the hearers. How could the "Prince of peace" have come to give division"? Many in the world are totally unable to appreciate Jesus' statement and reconcile it with the Jesus they know. In similar fashion, a sizable number in the Lord's church cannot begin to agree and accept Jesus' mission statement.
Jesus' gospel is a system of singularity as opposed to multiplicity. One key word in the vernacular of the New Testament is the adjective of singularity - "one." Jesus said there was to be "one fold" (Jn. 10: 16). There is one shepherd and one door (Jn. 10: 1-18). The scriptures teach there is one mediator, one faith, and one way (I Tim. 2: 5, Eph. 4: 5, Jn. 14: 6). There is one hope of our calling, one baptism, and one body or church (Eph. 4: 4, 5, 4). Also, Christians are commanded to be one minded (I Cor. 1: 10).
Jesus' system is not only a system of singularity but also a system of exclusivity. Jesus said he was (is) the shepherd and that all others are false. He also said he is the door and all other ways and attempted entries are futile (Jn. 10). Jesus often caused division among his brethren because of his teaching and uncompromising "style" (Jn. 7: 43, 9: 16, 10: 19).
Christians are to contend for the one faith. The gospel has an essential uncompromising nature. Christians are required to earnestly contend for the once delivered faith (Jude 3). Paul was set for the defense and confirmation of the gospel (Phil. 1: 7, 17). We must not compromise truth "no, nor for an hour," the Spirit led apostle Paul emphatically wrote (Gal. 2: 5).
Fellowship is contingent on truth. "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed," John wrote ( 2 Jn. 10, 9-11). Christians are not only to avoid fellowshipping that which is contrary to God's word but also reprove and expose (Eph. 5: 11).
Division is an essential characteristic of pristine Christianity. Beloved, in view of the demanding, uncompromising, exclusive, and combative nature of Jesus' gospel and the proclivity of man to do his own thing, division will be experienced. Paul wrote, "For there must be also factions among you ." Notice the positive nature of division or faction: " that they that are approved may be made manifest among you" (I Cor. 11: 19). We strive for unity in our uncompromising stand, however, we incur opposition; hence, division becomes a reality.
The religious world cannot understand Jesus' statement "I am come to give division" because they have changed the gospel into a "does not matter what you believe" and "we must tolerate all different beliefs." Alas, the precise same mentality has pervaded the Lord's church. The Positive Movement of the last two decades has greatly changed the thinking of many and has formed attitudes which are receptive to a denial of "I am come to give division." "We must avoid division at all expense fire the preacher, run off all who love the uncompromising truth do whatever it takes but keep the people together," we too often hear.
Division is needed in some local churches. Some local churches have become melting pots for every imaginable belief and practice. Special preachers are sought who have learned to speak, but say nothing. "Keep the amalgamated group together and pacify the masses" is the goal of some elderships. Preach the positive (message of compromise) and eliminate the negative (division) is the cry.
The truth is ecumenical unity exists in all circles. Unity in diversity is a pseudo, political, and hypocritical unity that does not even resemble Jesus' unity. Our new unity does not allow for division. The sad thing is many churches are severely divided, but they stay under one roof and have agreed to not disagree. "Emphasize their common beliefs and do not dwell on the differences," some advise. It is comical to watch and listen to some of these pseudo unity preachers preach. They are masters at speaking around the truth and avoiding "the issues" (the art of circumlocution).
We, as Jesus, pray for unity and do all we can to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Jn. 17, Eph. 4: 3). However, we know division will come if we love the truth and uncompromisingly stand for it. Those who sinfully cause division are not those who determinedly and exclusively preach the truth (Rom. 16: 17). They preach "doctrines contrary to the doctrine which we have learned" (Ibid.). Those, for instance, who promote peace at any price and "keep the group together regardless." It is they we must avoid. It is they "who serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." (vs. 18.) In our generation, they have hidden under the guise of Romans 14, claiming we must tolerate doctrinal differences. If these brethren (there are many) had their way (more and more are), there would be no division of which Jesus said he had come to bring. Every doctrinal aberration would come under the broad canopy of Romans 14.
Concerned reader and brethren, let us never forget Jesus said "I am come to give division." Jesus causes division among loved ones and families. None of us (those who practice the truth) have been spared the heartache of division. However, division is a necessary feature of Jesus' teaching which we must not deny or seek to preclude.