“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
A House Divided, by Randall D. Kittle
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If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” — Mark 3:24–25

One of the difficulties of being the youngest in the family is that your older brothers and sisters remember so many interesting and embarrassing stories that, because you were too young, you can neither confirm nor deny. My older brother used to enjoy telling the story about the first time our family flew in an airplane on vacation. The captain announced over the loud speaker “We are now flying over the border between Kentucky and Tennessee, and should be landing in Miami in a little less than two hours. The current weather conditions in Miami are sunshine and 78 degrees.” My brother looked over at me as I intently stared out the window. I turned toward him and with a puzzled look on my face asked, “Where’s the line? How come we can’t see the line?” It took him a minute to figure out what I was talking about. I had expected to see a nice, wide, light-blue line separating the two states, just like on the maps at home. As a child, I had always enjoyed maps. The world seemed so nice and neat and orderly. Every state was well delineated — separated by nice, blue lines. But now, here we were flying right over one of these dividing lines … and it wasn’t really there. To my dismay the border was not a nice crisp line, not even a river or lake, it was only imaginary … just pretend.

Lines of Division
There is such an artificiality to so many of the dividing lines we utilize in this world. Dividing lines such as borders and property lines are important to us because we are uncomfortable unless we can “get a handle” on something. Unless we can identify it, define it, measure it, quantify it, and label it — we’re not comfortable with it.

Time is one of those things we so sharply and precisely divide. With the tick of the clock at the stroke of midnight on December 31 of this year, the old year will pass away and a new year begins. Everything from the last 365 days is over and neatly separated from the next 365 days by this one click. With the passing of a mere second of time, we suddenly think of many things as being a year older and other things as being brand new. Somehow we feel that once we have something well-delineated we are the masters of it. However, no matter how precisely we may measure time, we cannot control it. We cannot go back or forward in time, merely mark its passage.

It is the same with the weather. We quantify it utilizing sophisticated instruments, radar, and satellites to tell us the temperature, wind direction and speed, humidity, barometric pressure, cloud cover, etc. We then analyze this information and predict the weather for weeks in advance. Yet, any major storm or natural disaster quickly reveals all too clearly that we are not masters of the weather.

Divisions in the House
Unfortunately, God’s House has not been immune to this propensity for creating lines of demarcation. We, too, are far more comfortable when everything is separated into neat and tidy, well-delineated groups. We seem to feel the Church is more manageable when “there’s a place for everything and everything in its place.” In order to get these lines of division, however, we often have to heighten our differences to make things fall more easily into separate categories. We take our natural diversity and make of them lines of separation. This tends to disjoint the Body of Christ into different and separate compartments.

This tendency isn’t something new; from the very beginning of the Church there have been those wanting to divide the body of Christ by their own natural affinities. But just because there have always been those who have divided the House of God doesn’t make it right. In Mark 10:9, Jesus gave us His heart not only for marriage but for the Church,
“Therefore what God has joined together, man must not separate.” Recognizing and celebrating the vast diversity God has placed in His Church is great, but when it turns into division, fractionalization, and splitting it becomes a grave sin that weakens the Church and grieves the Lord’s heart. Let us remember that it was our Lord — not Abraham Lincoln — who first said, “… if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25). More than President Lincoln wanted the United States to remain a strong union, Jesus Christ wants His Church to remain a united kingdom; indivisible and undefeatable!

Following the Leader
One of the lines of division we commonly find in the Church is caused by believers following a man. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about their quarreling and warned them, “What I mean is this: One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:12–13). The young Church in Corinth had already divided into separate groups all following after Paul, Apollos, or Cephas. What was the Holy Spirit’s question to them? “Who was crucified for you?” There is only One who has paid the price to purchase the Church and is, therefore, worthy to call them His own — Jesus Christ!

Paul’s clear instruction here is that we should never bring division to the House of the Lord because it belongs to the Lord alone. Still, through the ages, many have failed to heed his instruction and separated themselves from others by following a leader instead of simply following the Lord. This is one of the primary reasons for the Lord’s House being divided in our day.

While it is not wrong to follow after leaders (after all, in 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul himself said,
“Be followers of me, even as I am of Christ”), our first and primary focus should not be following them but following Christ! Unfortunately, there is a human tendency in the vast majority of us wanting to follow another individual. Life is easier and there is less work if we follow someone else. You don’t have to think as much or bear as much responsibility if you are following.

We also find a certain vicarious success when we hitch our wagon to a “rising star.” How easy it is to become attached to and identified with a dynamic associate pastor, an anointed worship leader, or our compassionate small group leader. We soon find that what they are doing is what matters, what they need is what’s important, and how they see things is how it should be. When we begin to feel like this (and it’s easier than it may sound), we have begun to follow man and lost sight of Christ.

Fixing our hearts on a leader not only separates a church into various “camps,” it is the most common cause for church splits. When one of the people in leadership who has a good number of followers becomes slighted, overlooked, or just impatient for promotion, they often decide to strike out on their own and start a “new work.” This often results in a tragic tearing apart of a church body. Hurt feelings and hardened hearts soon invoke a bitter family feud. It can often take years for believers who have been part of this spiritual family to recover from such a divisive “divorce.”

Prevention of this kind of traumatic dissection is simple. We must remember it is okay to follow a leader, but only as they follow Jesus and lead us to be more in love with Him. We can appreciate the gifts of those God has placed around us in the Household of God, and show honor to those who labor to minister the truth and love of God in our midst … but we must fix our hearts and hopes on no man other than Jesus Christ!

Gifts that Separate
Another area we have allowed to bring separation to the body of Christ is spiritual gifts. Over the years, no issue has produced greater divisiveness in the body of Christ than spiritual gifts. It has caused individual churches to split as well as entire denominations to divide.

Satan not only uses the spiritual gifts God designed to strengthen and build up His Church to cause church splits, he also uses them to bring weakness and division. The enemy wants to use the various spiritual gifts like fences to divide God’s sheep into different camps according to their strongest giftings. He would have some of us separate into groups of “pastoral giftings” and others as “the prophets,” and so on — each camp gathering around its own little campfire. If he can get us to become separate, divided, and labeled (which makes the separation more permanent), he is well on his way to bringing defeat. The enemy’s strategy is to take the diverse gifts the Lord has given the Body of Christ and use them to cause a spirit of competition that leads to alienation. In this way he can help foster an “us-against-them” mentality in the church.

Fences of Separation
Once in a vision I saw a flock of sheep on a hillside. They were grazing in little groups, and everything seemed fine. Suddenly, fences began to rise up out of the ground dividing each of the groups into separate “corrals.” The different corrals had signs on the fences. I could read some of the different signs. One was labeled “Prophetic,” one was labeled “Pastoral,” one was labeled “Intercessors” — but there were also many others.

Most of the sheep paid little attention to the fences and just kept on grazing. Some sheep seemed very happy by this separation — as if they thought this was good and helpful to be protected from those who were “different.” Other sheep, however, looked angry and began trying to knock down the fences or jump over them.

Then I heard the Lord say,
“The enemy’s plan is to divide and conquer, but My heart is to unite and bless.” With that each fence crumbled into pieces and fell to the ground. The sheep gathered the splintered fragments of the fences into a large pile and ignited it … setting ablaze a glorious bonfire.

God has placed the various spiritual gifts in the church not to produce factions but fullness. In these days He is removing the fences of separation and calling us to work together
“as one man.” If we will cooperate with the Lord as He breaks down the fences and bring our various campfires together, the light of the Lord’s presence in our midst will be like a brilliant bonfire — a bright light of united love for all to see!

Embracing God’s Variety
While unity is critically important, it is not just unity, but unity of spirit with diversity of gifts that makes the body of Christ what it is called to be. When believers are focused on the Lord and use their diverse giftings in harmony, the true voice of the Bride of Christ will be proclaimed and Her beauty will be displayed. God has created the body of Christ so that each part is important … but different. It says in 1 Corinthians 12: “Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. … If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. … As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”

God did not create us exactly alike, and He is not calling us to uniformity. God doesn’t want us to be clones who all look and act alike, but co-laborers … brothers and sister willing to believe the best in others and work with them despite our great differences. Like a pipe organ, it is our differences, not our similarities, that cause our unity to be so beautiful. The most famous pipe organs in the world have more than 2,000 pipes! Some of these pipes are twenty feet long, while others are no longer than a pencil. Each one is tuned to a different, unique note. And each pipe has its own particular part to play in the beauty of the instrument. When a talented musician plays a great pipe organ, they masterfully blend the music from each pipe together producing a glorious harmony for all who listen.

Jesus is the Master Musician of the universe, and He has created His Church, like a great pipe organ, with a vast diversity of gifts, talents, personalities, etc. … each one unique and important. First Peter 2:5 says,
“… you also, as living stones, are being built up into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood.” Jesus, our master builder, knows where each stone fits into His spiritual house, which is the Church. The Lord in this day is calling for the priesthood of the believer to be re-established, where every believer — young or old, prophetic or pastoral, reserved or outgoing — is fitted in, honored, and used to build the kingdom of God.

Designed for Destiny
The Lord wants us to not only see that each of us is different, but also rejoice in this difference. Each of us is unique, designed and created for our own destiny. The calling that I have is not the same as anyone else’s. We were each created with specific things to accomplish. God created each of us with different abilities, characteristics, and strengths; that we would be prepared to complete all for which He has destined us.

Similarly, each church as a corporate man will not be just like any other. Certainly there will be likenesses in appearance, form, and function; but the reason for their existence as a separate church, the reason God formed them, was to complete a specific purpose He had in His heart for them.

Even as a corporate man (an individual church) the Lord has given us certain abilities and our own specific personality. These are necessary to complete the task He has set before us. It is important that we do not try to mimic others — becoming something other than God has created us to be, but pursue becoming the “man” He has made
us to be. As each church begins to discover their place, position, and purpose, and walk it out, the fullness of the kingdom of God will begin to be manifest on the Earth.

The time has come for each believer and every church to become what we have been called to be. Fulfilling this calling will be more difficult than simply proclaiming it. We must stop looking at our differences (after all, most of them are only imaginary), and start looking to Jesus. Let us renounce every tendency or desire to follow after any man other than Jesus Christ. Let us not only accept but rejoice in the great variety the Lord has placed in His Church with its broad range of ages, personalities, and spiritual gifts — for nothing less could reflect the fullness of the Lord to this world. As we operate in the two greatest commandments — loving the Lord our God with all our hearts and loving our brothers and sisters as ourselves, the divided household of God will be united once more around our brilliant center — Jesus Christ.

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