“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” Matthew 12:25
The news had just broke. Our nation’s capital had just been breached. The country was in chaos once again. The division that was thick in our nation seemed to be seeping into the walls of our home. Our normally unified marriage seemed to be pulling apart at the seams. Strong opinions flared. It was almost like I could feel Satan’s pleasure in our quarreling. What in the world was going on??? What is needed here? I believe it can be summed up in one word:
How do we as believers choose unity when we’re floating down a raging river of division? Here’s a few things that I had to remind myself of:
Do a self-check: Which leader have I put my hope in? Is it a political leader? A political party? A particular form of government? If so, I’m vulnerable to division. Psalm 146 says,
“Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God,…the LORD, who remains faithful forever.”
We see in 1 Corinthians 1 how putting our hope in human leaders is a door-opener to division when it says,
“I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.”
Another thing I needed to remind myself of in order to choose unity is that God is in control, not me. It’s Soooo tempting to think that if we can just be the one in control, we can protect others. When this happens, it’s easy to start scrambling to seize power. Even if it’s just by sitting on our couches pointing fingers and spouting our strong opinions.
Instead, we can choose unity by acting as if we actually believe that God is Sovereign. He rules. He has not gotten off of His throne, and He never will. Daniel 6:26 assures us,
“For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.”
Another thing I needed to remember in order to choose unity is that people are not the enemy. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
It’s so tempting to think we have to fight our battles in the physical realm. The truth is, the solution to the problems we face is found on our knees. There’s a time to try to persuade others in the physical realm. But first, let’s go to our knees. Let’s reopen the alters for corporate prayer. We are stronger when we come before the throne of God together.
Another thing I needed to remind myself of was to submit to God’s answer to my prayers. Many have been praying for the outcome of this election for a long time. There are different opinions within the Church about who would make the best President. Some have prayed one way, others another way. When we go to prayer, we often just want what we want. If we don’t get it, the temptation can come to yield to disappointment and disillusionment. We may begin to question whether our prayers have any power at all; yet even Jesus didn’t always get a “yes” when he prayed. Hebrews 5:7-9 says,
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him…”
I’m guessing that after Jesus cried out to the Father asking that the cup of suffering would pass by Him if possible, it might not have LOOKED like He’d been heard. When He was flogged, He couldn’t depend on His feelings. When the soldiers pressed the crown of thorns on His head, He couldn’t depend on how things looked. When He was nailed to the cross, He had to depend on the faithfulness of the Father. This passage from Hebrews teaches us some things we can hold onto:
God listens to the prayers of His people. Hebrews tells us that Jesus “was heard because of his reverent submission. In the original language, “was heard” means that the Father not only listened, but that Jesus was deeply heard. The Father listened intently. It also means that Jesus’ request was granted. You might ask, but how can that be? Jesus still had to suffer. He still died. It is only when we look at the outcome from heaven’s vantage point that we can see that our prayers and the Father’s will are both able to be satisfied. It is this eternal perspective that the Father did indeed save Jesus from death. It was through Jesus’ resurrection that death no longer had power over Him.
The Father does the same for us. He listens intently when we pray. We are deeply heard. We have His attention. God responds to our prayers. He makes a way even when there is no way. When our prayers collide with His Sovereign will, He makes a way so that His will is satisfied and our prayers are answered. It just doesn’t always look that way this side of eternity.
So, how should we respond if our prayers don’t appear to be answered the way we hoped they would? We do the same thing Jesus did: we submit to God. We yield to His Sovereign will. We say, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.” We resist lies of unbelief that say, “God didn’t hear me,” or “It doesn’t do any good to pray.” We agree with the word when it says,
- “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16
- “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
- “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:17
- “The judgments of the LORD are true, being altogether righteous.” Psalm 19:9
- “His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are counted as nothing, and He does as He pleases with the army of heaven and the peoples of the earth. There is no one who can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?” Daniel 4:34-35
- “There is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Romans 13:1
Scripture reassures us that God is the One Who puts people in positions of authority. We can rest in this. Now, is there ever a time to take action? Yes! The key is that we don’t just go rogue. We are protected when we get our marching orders from our heavenly commander-in-chief.
God has a plan for this nation, and it’s good. He is for us! He never ceases to be our rescuer! He never stops acting as our Protector. We can trust His leadership fully. So let’s lay down our walls of fear. Let’s turn away from division, finger-pointing and making political leaders the foundation of our hope. We will not be disappointed if we put our hope in God.
May the peace of God rule in your hearts today,