Disunity and Division.
2 Samuel 17-18, 1 Corinthians 11
But in the following instructions, I cannot praise you. For it sounds as if more harm than good is done when you meet together. First, I hear that there are divisions among you when you meet as a church, and to some extent I believe it. – 1 Corinthians 11:17-18 NLT
The house of David was divided. His own son, Absalom, had turned against him, taking over his throne and occupying his royal city. Ever since Absalom had taken revenge against Amnon for raping his sister, Absalom and David had been in a less-than-ideal relationship. They had never fully healed the wounds between them. Absalom had developed a growing resentment for David and had lost respect for him as both a father and a king. So he plotted to take over his father’s throne and was even determined to take his father’s life in order to solidify his own kingship. The amazing thing to consider is that this is all taking place within the nation that had been hand-picked by God to be His chosen people. The Israelites were to be an example of what it was like for a people to live under the leadership of God Himself, experiencing His presence and power, and obeying His righteous commands. But ever since the days of Moses, they had struggled with the concept of unity, constantly finding themselves arguing and whining against one another. Division, disunity and in-fighting were a constant problem among God’s people. We can only imagine how the Philistines and the other enemies of Israel must have loved watching Absalom destroy the nation of Israel from within. The enemy has always preferred watching the followers of God destroy themselves, which is why he has made division and disunity such a high priority in his war against the people of God. It is also why Jesus prayed for our unity in His high priestly prayer recorded in John 17. “ I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me” (John 17:21 ESV).
What does this passage reveal about God?
Unity is important to God. It was important to Jesus. The Father and the Son enjoyed perfect unity. There was no division between them. They were unified in their love for one another, their love for mankind and in their plan to provide a solution to man’s sin problem. Jesus knew that our unity was just as important, even intimating that the unity of the people of God would be a testimony to the world of God’s presence among us. Jesus went on to pray, “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me” (John 17:22-23 ESV). Our unity is a work of the Spirit. It is not human or natural. It is made possible by the power and presence of God in our lives. And our ability to live in unity is a testimony to God’s love, Christ’s redeeming work and the Spirit’s power. Without God’s help, we are prone to selfishness and self-centeredness. Division and disagreement are a constant threat because they are manifestations of man’s sin nature. But God’s love has unified us. We share a common Savior and have been made part of the body of Christ. Paul writes, “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles,some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit” (1Corinthians 12:12-13 ESV). Our common dependence upon Christ’s saving work has unified us into one, unified body. We share all things in common. None of us are more deserving of God’s love than anyone else. We have no more value in God’s eyes than any of His other children.
What does this passage reveal about man?
But even among the people of God, disunity and discord can raise its ugly head. Just as Absalom was led to see himself as superior to David and worthy of taking his place as king, so too can one believer view himself as more important or worthy than another believer. Paul witnessed this very problem taking place among the believers in Corinth. He wrote, “when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you” (1 Corinthians 11:18 ESV). In other words, when they gathered together for their church services, they were doing so with divided hearts and a spirit of disunity. Their times of corporate worship were marked by selfishness, self-centeredness and an unhealthy spirit of arrogance. Even their marriages were being impacted by this disunity, as wives and husbands failed to properly maintain their god-given roles and responsibilities. Husbands were failing to lead spiritually and their wives were abusing their new-found liberties in Christ to the point that they were undermining God’s order of authority and responsibility. The end result was disunity. There was a spirit of independence that had infected the church and was destroying not only their unity, but their witness in the community. Which is why Paul reminded them, “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God” (1 Corinthians 11:11-12 ESV). Their self-centeredness had caused them to remember that it was God who was to be at the center of the homes, marriages, and worship services. He was to be the focus, not themselves.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
Absalom was driven by anger, resentment, pride, arrogance and a growing self-centeredness that eventually caused him to forget that God had chosen his father to be the king of Israel, not him. Absalom’s will had taken precedence over God’s will. He had no problem dividing the kingdom God had established in his efforts to create his own kingdom. And as a result, many would die needlessly, including himself. His actions would bring shame on the nation of Israel and joy to the hearts of the enemies of Israel. How much easier it is to sit back and watch us destroy ourselves from within. If Satan can get us to live together in DISunity, he has won a major battle. If he can divide us from within, he has won a major battle without having to lift a finger against us. This is why Jesus prayed so fervently on our behalf, “the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth” (John 17:14-17 ESV). Like the people of Israel, we are surrounded by a world that is hostile to our very existence. Which is why our unity is so important. We cannot afford to allow internal strife, division and disunity to weaken us. We cannot allow our pride and selfishness to get the best of us. We must remember that God has joined us together. He has placed us in His family. He has unified us through a common faith in His Son’s death, burial and resurrection. Together, we make up the body of Christ. But it is our unity that makes us effective. It is our love for one another that proves we are His disciples. It is our supernatural harmony that witnesses to the world of God’s presence and power among us.
Father, the world longs to see what true love, harmony and unity looks like. They are dying to see marriages that are marked by Your power and presence. They desperately need to see believers who have been transformed by Your Spirit loving one another regardless of color, class, nationality, income or social standing. May we truly be one as Your prayed that we would be. So that the world may believe in Your Son. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men