The Spirit of Division
In looking for a sign of the return of Jesus, His disciples asked Him, "...And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?". Jesus replied, "Take heed that no one deceives you, for many will come in My name, saying 'I am the Christ', and will deceive many. And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. And all these are the beginning of sorrows." Matthew 24:3-8. NKJV
We won't deal with the entire end-time scenario here, just one small part - "for nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom". The word "nation" translated here means, "people" or "race". The word "kingdom" basically means a "sovereign power" or "country". To put in another way, Jesus was saying that races of people fighting among themselves, and countries fighting among themselves would be a "sign" of His return. Today, we see constant reminders and "signs" of the fighting and contention between "kingdoms" (countries), but do we really notice the "sign" of racial fighting. "For race will rise against race, and country against country. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. And all these are the beginning of sorrows."
The situation in Bosnia is probably the best example of this scripture coming to past in current affairs. The term "ethnic cleasing" is becoming the excuse for all types of crimes against humanity. We are now seeing countries torn apart by people motivated by the same desire to be with their own "race". Just a few years ago, the Soviet Union was considered one nation of people. Since the fall of communism, we've seen states created by people and races that we didn't even know existed. Jesus' words in Matthew reveal a "spirit of division" being released upon the earth in the days preceding His return.
You've heard about the old military tactic "divide and conquer" haven't you? This is exactly the plan of battle used by the enemy in his attacks against the christian church. It's bad enough that we have more denominations than we can count. We now seem to be making less progress by separating into race-based congregations. It's amazing that people who claim to love the Lord so much can't worship together. Sure, there are cultural and language differences that exist. They do with all people. However, how do we expect the world to come together when the Body of the Lord won't? We're too content to "praise the Lord" with our "own kind", not realizing how our "works of the flesh" keep away those who are looking for the truth.
Lights of the World?
The shame of the Christian church is our lack of unity after the spirit of God. Our congregations are usually based on social, racial and economic lines. It makes us comfortable to see people like ourselves. We don't mind helping "others", as long as we don't have to be with them. I should stop and say that there are many congregations that don't have this problem however. They recognize the only two races of people in the world - "saved" and "unsaved". Praise God for those who can look past the flesh to the work of the spirit. They are the ones the Lord will use for the coming harvest. How can we expect to draw anyone to the Lord when we live so much of our lives after the desires of the flesh? Street-wise people aren't fooled, they know fakes when they see them.
What does all this mean?
For the church to be strong and full of light, we must work to overcome the tendencies of the flesh. The "spirit of division" seeks to keep us from each other, thus weakening the body and our ministry to the lost. It's not natural to be with others unlike ourselves, and that's the point! God desires that all men know Him and be saved and He has chosen the church as His expression in the earth. It's scary to think that people may not come to God because of us. The world sees that we can't or won't get along. God said the heathen blasphemed His name because of Israel's failure to keep His commandments (Romans 2:24). How much more can we expect from God if the natural branches were cut off. Wake up church, God is not pleased! We must shake off the tendency to separate into our safe little worlds of what we know and like. Jesus told us to pick up our cross and follow Him. The cross is heavy and uncomfortable at times and it means death to self. Our lives are not our own, we have been bought and paid for with a price. Let us seek to be one with Him and with each other. We must fight against the enemy which seeks to divide us and show forth the love of God. As the song goes, "and they'll know we are Christians by our love".
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